Salted and Malted Nutella Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

February 5, 2014

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Salted and Malted Nutella Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies. I really don’t know if I need to elaborate on this one… I mean, I don’t know about you, but they had me at Salted & Malted. Nothing more need be said. But then those delicious pair of words are followed by Nutella. And it doesn’t stop there. Oh no. It goes on to read Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie! Have Mercy!

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I was instantly confident that this would be the recipe that I would make for World Nutella Day. That’s right, today February 5th is World Nutella Day. This celebration of all things Nutella was started in 2007 by Sara at Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle at Bleeding Espresso as a day to celebrate, get creative with and most importantly, to EAT Nutella.

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I love Nutella. Although I missed adding a submission to Nutella Day last year. (Total brain freeze…I have no excuse) I have contributed a couple of truly tasty Nutella laden recipes in years past. There was my exquisite Nutella, Double Chocolate & Banana Tart

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and my delightful Nutella & Banana filled Peanut Butter Ebelskivers.

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I think these Salted & Malted Nutella Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies are a great way to jump back into the game.

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Morgan over at Host the Toast came up with these gems back in December. What a masterpiece! They literally have it all, silky, decadent Nutella, creamy caramel, nostalgic malted goodness and rich chocolate chips all rolled up in a crunchy chewy salted cookie. (Yup…its got the salty/sweet thing covered as well!) They are an absolute breeze to make and as I’m sure you can imagine, are certainly quite easy to eat. (Ahem…probably a bit too easy judging from the fit of my britches…) I can’t get enough of these little devils! Get yourself addicted today!

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Salted and Malted Nutella Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

recipe from Host the Toast

yield: 27 Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 and ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup malted milk powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup Nutella
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ⅔ cup caramel bits (or baking caramels cut into tiny pieces)
  • Flaky Sea salt, for topping

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, malted milk powder, baking soda, and salt until well blended.

Cream together the butter and both sugars in a separate bowl until completely smooth.

Add the Nutella to the butter mixture and mix until fully combined. Add in the egg and vanilla and continue to mix. Then, slowly add in the flour mixture. Mix until it all is just incorporated, but don’t over-mix.

Stir in the chocolate chips and caramel bits until evenly distributed. I like to refrigerate cookie dough for an hour or so before baking. It helps to keep it from spreading too quickly in the oven resulting in a very thin cookie. However, this step is optional. Using a medium-sized cookie scoop ( holds about 2 tablespoons) scoop dough and drop onto the parchment paper-covered baking sheets, spacing them out about 2½ inches apart and away from the sides of the sheet. You may have to do multiple batches– don’t try to squeeze them all in.

Sprinkle dough with flaky sea salt.

Bake 10-13 minutes. Remove from the oven. They will still be very, very soft. Leave them on the cookie sheet on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, or until they are solid enough to eat.

Enjoy!


Baileys, Cacao Nib & Oatmeal Cookies

March 8, 2013

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Oh Baileys! Why do you have to be so delicious! You just seem to go great in everything! And these little cookies are no exception. Baileys, chocolate chips, cacao nibs and oatmeal, what a fantastic line-up. These cookies are really some thing special. They are a bit crispy yet also chewy and bursting with the decadent flavours of Bailey’s and chocolate.

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I was lucky enough to have baked these up the night before our most recent snow storm. So I was able to spend my “snow day” nibbling on these little gems and washing them down with big steaming mugs of Scáiltín. Lucky me!

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Now you might be wondering what a “cacao nib” is. I know I sure was when I first ran across this recipe. Cacao Nibs are tiny chips of the roasted cocoa beans, essentially raw chocolate. They are not sweet, but taste rather nutty and perhaps a bit like chocolate, but more like a roasted coffee bean.

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They add great texture and interesting depth of flavour to baked goods. I’ve seen them listed as ingredients in various recipes out in internet land, but had no idea where to find them. I think I finally found them in a kitchen specialty store, though I have since been told that Whole Foods carries them. And of course, there is always Amazon. Worse case scenario, make these cookies up for St. Patrick’s Day without the nibs. I’m sure they’ll still be an excellent and tasty source of energy to keep you going strong through all of your celebrations. When you are able to find Cacao Nibs, make up another batch.

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Baileys, Cacao Nib & Oatmeal Cookies

recipe from: Violets and Cardamom

yield: 30 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (equal to 1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup Old Fashioned oats, ground or whole
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa Nibs
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup Irish creme liqueur

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is fluffy (about 3 minutes).

Add the egg and beat for another minute.

Add the vanilla and Irish Cream and beat until well mixed.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated.

Fold in the remaining ingredients making sure everything is mixed well. The dough should be pretty firm.

Scoop out the dough and place on either a parchment covered cookie sheet or on a greased cookie sheet. Make sure to space them out well as they do spread.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden on the outside. Let cool on cookie sheet for five minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!


Kanilsnúðar (Cinnamon Snails) & Iceland in December

January 8, 2013

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Happy New Year Everyone! The busy holiday season is finally over and I guess everyone is starting to get back into their old routines. Our holiday season was made particularly hectic due to our decision to go on a spur of the moment trip to Iceland. We had always wanted to visit Iceland and had briefly looked into flights, hotels etc., but it had always been a bit on the pricey side. When we arrived back from our October Ireland trip, I had read an article which claimed that this winter, visitors to Iceland would be much more likely to see the Northern Lights due to the current cycle of increased solar flare activity. That’s when I checked flights on a lark and found that not only were flights cheaper, but all of the hotels seemed to be running off-season special rates. I must admit, a few times I did think “Who the heck goes to Iceland in December?! Are we nuts?!”

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But I’ve got to tell you, it is fantastic!. We LOVED it! Actually, I probably should tell you it’s dreadful, cause we are definitely going back and I don’t want to let too many folks in on the secret. Sure, it is chilly, though not awfully so. It hovers right around freezing but the temperatures are often accompanied and shall we say enhanced by ever-present, kicking winds. There is also not a great deal of daylight. Although you will find 24 hours of daylight if you visit in July, in December it got light around 10:45 a.m. and was dark again around 4 p.m. Such limited daylight definitely forced us to plan out what we wanted to do during  the day and get to doing it before it was dark again. And we did get in quite a few adventures. We went horseback riding at Hestheimar Horse Farm.

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Icelandic Horses were initially introduced to the country by Norwegian Viking settlers and the breed has remained pure for about 1000 years. These sturdy and hardy horses are very friendly and personable. They have an extra gait called a tölt which is essentially a fast walk. Tölting is a pleasure! Very smooth, much more comfortable for the rider than a trot.

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Super Jeep next to a crater created when Eyafjallajökull volcano erupted a couple of years ago.

We went on a Super Jeep tour of Þórsmörk (Thor’s Forest) with South Iceland Adventure Company (Thanks so much to Magnus, our guide) and saw waterfalls, and hiked through gorges, mountain passes and around on a glacier.

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Inside a glacial ice formation.

We chilled out at the Blue Lagoon. Not the one from the 80′s with Brooke Shields, but a surreal geothermal pool and Spa located in a lava field in Grindavík about 40 minutes from Reykjavik. No description from me will do it justice. It really is other worldly. But let me just say… imagine a huge hot tub in the middle of a lava field with a swim up to wine/beer bar located in the center. Are you getting the picture?

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We went Snowmobiling with Mountaineers of Iceland on Langjökull glacier, the second largest glacier in Iceland. Very exciting, but even with the copious layers of thermals I was wearing, it was the absolute coldest I’ve ever been in my entire life! Though what would you expect, we were traipsing about on a huge slab of ice!

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We stayed at Hotel Rangá. This gorgeous, cozy hotel, which is located out in the country (hence no light pollution), about two hours from Reykjavik, caters to folks hoping to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights and will give you a wake up call should you desire if the elusive lights do make an appearance. (seems like they mostly show up around midnight to 2 a.m.) We were actually lucky enough to see the Aurora put on a great show.

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Northern Lights and a meteor from the Geminid meteor shower which was happening on the same night!

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What is the food like you might ask. As you can imagine, the seafood is really outstanding! My husband, who is allergic to seafood, was not left wanting. There were plenty of non-seafood options available for him to choose from. One of his favourite meals of the trip was reindeer meatballs. All that being said, one of the most popular “restaurants” in Reykjavik, really isn’t a restaurant at all. It is a hot dog stand called Bæjarins Beztu which has been selling hot dogs or pylsur to Icelanders and tourists alike since 1935. Apparently Icelanders LOVE hot dogs and claim that theirs are the best in the world. Indeed, The Guardian designated Bæjarins Beztu as the “best hot dog stand in Europe”. Of course we made a beeline for the place as soon as we arrived in the city (as well as paying it a couple more visits while we were there). We weren’t disappointed! They serve some excellent hot dogs. These dogs have lamb added to the usual pork and beef and are smothered with ketchup, mustard, raw onion, crispy onion and a spicy remoulade. Delicious!

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We are already planning our trip back this year and yup, in December! I’m sure at this point you are wondering if we are ever going to talk about the Kanilsnúðar recipe I’ve dangled so temptingly before you. So I’ll get right to it. Icelanders are really into Christmas. Christmas music plays non-stop. All the houses are completely decked out with lights. Everywhere we went, shops, bars, you name it, had Christmas cookies out for all to enjoy. I think I first tasted a Kanilsnúðar at the Heistheimar riding stables. It reminded me of a Snickerdoodle, but better, much more exotic and with a fun shape. Then I was able to find a bag of these darling little snails, the first of many bags consumed on the trip, in a local market and my obsession began.

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Once I got home, I looked about online and was able to find a couple of recipes. The one I really wanted to make called for the ingredient “Hartshorn” which I had never heard of. Further internet research revealed that Hartshorn is a rather old-fashioned leavener also known as Baker’s Ammonia. It is supposed to make baked goods rise higher than baking powder and make them extra crispy. I read that it was available in most Scandinavian shops. These establishments are a bit thin on the ground in Virginia, so I checked the King Arthur Flour site and sure enough they had it, so I placed my order. (If you would like to make these cookies without the Hartshorn, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for the 1/2 teaspoon Hartshorn called for. This is said to yield similar results, but I did not try it.) For those of you who do manage to procure some Hartshorn, don’t freak out when you mix the cookie dough up. It will have quite a whiff of ammonia about it, but it goes away once baking is complete. I was quite happy with my little “cinnamon snails”.

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They are great with a cup of coffee or tea in the morning or as an afternoon snack. My husband likes them because they are not overly sweet, a quality which he seems to prefer in a cookie. I’m sure they have secured a permanent place in our Christmas cookie repertoire because they will always be a pleasant reminder of our dreamy first trip to Iceland.

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Kanilsnúðar (Cinnamon Snails)

recipe adapted from: Jo’s Icelandic Recipes

yield: approx. 12  cookies

Ingredients:

  • 175 grams flour
  • 100 grams  unsalted butter  plus 1 Tablespoon salted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp hartshorn powder (baker’s ammonia) * or 1/2 tsp. baking powder and baking soda
  • 60 grams sugar
  • 1 egg
  • healthy pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cinnamon Sugar:

  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon (or extra if you’re really into cinnamon)

Directions:

Mix cinnamon and sugar together until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Place flour and hartshorn, sugar and salt in food processor. Pulse to mix. Cut cold butter into 1″ cubes and scatter over  the flour mixture. Pulse a few times until mixture resembles coarse little pebbles. Remove flour/butter mixture from food processor and place in bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and knead mixture until it just comes together to form dough. Pat dough into square shape and wrap with plastic wrap.

Place wrapped dough in the refrigerator for a couple of hours at least.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Flatten the dough quite thin and roll out evenly. Try to keep it an approximately square or rectangular shape.

Brush dough with melted butter.

Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over top of dough.

Roll the dough up into a roll, then slice into approx. 1 cm thick slices.

Arrange slices on a cookie sheet and bake at about 200°C (392 ° F) until golden brown.

Enjoy!

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Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies

August 30, 2012

Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies! My husband’s new favourite cookie, though he had a hard time choosing between these and the Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies I made a few weeks ago. And my husband isn’t really a cookie person. Or a big chocolate fan (go figure…). He is all about the fruit desserts. You know, cobblers, crisps, crumbles and pies. But when I made a batch of these cookies, he didn’t just eat the one to be polite. Well…maybe it started that way. But then I saw him reach for a second! Believe me, that doesn’t happen too often with him and cookies. So you know these cookies are particularly irresistible!

I had been looking forward to making these ever since I saw them on one of my favourite blogs, Buns in My Oven. They are right up my alley, two kinds of chocolate chips, chocolate syrup and malted milk powder! They simply have it all! Karly had baked these as a bar dessert, rather than cookies. It seems she tried to do them as cookies but was having trouble with them spreading too thin and burning on the outside before the inside was done. So she baked them in a pan and they came out wonderfully. I was all ready to try to make them as a bar dessert as well, but noticed that the recipe called for a 7 x 11 inch pan, which I didn’t have. I had my 9 x9 inch pan ready to sub in, when some wild hair took over and I reached for a baking sheet instead and decided I’d try the cookie version. Since it looked like these cookies had a tendency to spread too thin, once I had the dough all mixed up, I popped it into the fridge for about 30 minutes. Then I scooped out the chilled cookie dough and baked it for 12 -14 minutes. The cookies came out great! Mind you, these cookies are a bit thin, but not too thin. And they have a wonderfully chewy texture. Not to mention they are really delicious! And currently my husband’s reigning favourite cookie. Something tells me I’ll be baking many more batches. In fact, my husband has already asked for more. Amazing! Bake some for yourself today.

Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies

recipe slightly adapted from: Buns in My Oven

yield: 34 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, malted milk powder, chocolate syrup, and vanilla for 2 minutes. Beat in the egg until well combined.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix well.

Stir in the chocolate chunks and chips.

Refrigerate cookie dough for at least 30 minutes. Don’t skip this step, otherwise you will find that the cookie dough will spread too quickly.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a cookie scoop, scoop out dough and place about 1″ apart on prepared baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12 -14 minutes.

Cool on the pan for a few minutes then place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!


Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies

August 3, 2012

I’m back into the cornmeal again. I can’t help it. I just love the stuff! So when I saw that Dorie Greenspan had a recipe for Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies in Baking From My Home to Yours, I just couldn’t resist trying it out. I mean, I’m definitely a fan of rich, buttery, melt-in-your mouth shortbread. And we’ve already discussed my obsession with cornmeal, so it is no surprize that I was really intrigued by these cookies.

Shortbread is pretty easy to make. You just have to remember a couple of key points. The first is, don’t over beat the butter. While you want the sugar and butter blended, you don’t want to beat it until it becomes light a fluffy. The second thing to remember is that once you add the flour to the butter, mix them together quickly and gently, stopping as soon as the flour is incorporated. Once you’ve gotten the batter all mixed up, Dorie Greenspan suggests that you place the shortbread dough in a gallon ziplock bag and then roll it out in the bag. I must say, this suggestion is just brilliant! It was so much easier and much less messy than any of the methods I have tried before. I made the shortbread dough up on one day, refrigerated it overnight and then baked it on the following day. Pretty straight forward.

How did the Cornmeal Shortbread turn out? Fantastic! I can honestly say this is the BEST shortbread I have ever eaten! It has all of the rich buttery goodness of usual shortbread, along with the sandy texture. But the bit of cornmeal added to the mix gives this particular shortbread some extra crunch. Plus the lemon zest adds a really fresh zing. My husband, who isn’t really a shortbread fan… Wait! What?! Really, it’s true. In fact, when I mentioned I was making shortbread cookies he grabbed his throat and acted as if he was desperate need of water. You know like he had been traipsing around the desert for a week. Shortbread is soo dry, he gasped. Hmmm….But after he tasted these cookies, he agreed that they are the best he has ever tasted. So good, he is now even rethinking his previously held stance on shortbread cookies I know you might still be a bit skeptical about cornmeal in a shortbread cookie. I don’t blame you, I was too. And you probably shouldn’t trust me. You’ll just have to try them for yourself. You’ll see I was right. Well what are you waitin for? Get to baking!

Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies

recipe from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

Yield: 32 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Directions:

Sift the flour, cornstarch and salt together into a bowl, then whisk in the cornmeal.

Working in the bowl of a stand mixer, rub the sugar and zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment or the whisk, or use a hand mixer. Add the butter and extract to the bowl and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is very smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they just disappear into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated.

Using a rubber spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10″ rectangle that’s 1/4″ thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

Baking:

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board and using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2″ squares, or the size you desire. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 300°F. Bake the shortbreads for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads should be set and only just tinged golden. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool to room temperature.

Enjoy!


Margarita Cookies

June 28, 2012

So I just caught Jose staring at me again. Really. I’m just sitting here minding my own business and my old friend, Mr. Cuervo, just won’t leave me be. Well, maybe it’s actually like my eyes keep going to him. Hmmm… perhaps it’s a reflection of the kind of day I’ve had. I was in the Target (need I say more…) and unbeknownst to me, it was “take your shrilly shrieking kids shopping with you” day. Yeah, you know what I mean. The good Lord hasn’t blessed us with children yet, so I’m not sure about this theory, but I think the folks to whom those little pterodactyls belong eardrums have already toughened up…or perhaps split. Maybe there is some sort gene that clicks on once you’ve become a parent that involves a personal sound dampening field. I don’t know, but they don’t seem to hear them wailing their way up and down the aisles like a banshee choir. Those of us without the little buggers at home are a bit more sensitive to their cacophony of sounds and react accordingly by reaching for the tequila.

That being said, I do really seem to be craving something citrus-y, sweet and salty. Maybe I should just give in and whip up a Margarita, right now at a mere 2 o’clock in the afternoon. It’s a thought…be then again, perhaps I could be a bit more crafty about my alcohol consumption – mind you, not that I have a problem or anything – still appearances must be kept up, if you know what I mean. I think I’ll just grab that bottle of Cuervo Gold and make up a batch of Margarita Cookies. Everyone has a little coffee/cookie break in the middle of the afternoon right? Nothin wrong with that!

These cookies have  a medicinal quality about them. They contain that most special of nerve soothing ingredients, namely tequila. And they are also delightfully filled with lime and orange flavours and coated with sanding sugar and Maldon sea salt. Yum! Salty sweet shortbread-like cookies! They really hit the spot. Definitely improved my outlook on life in general. Perhaps these cookies mood boosting properties were enhanced somewhat when I sampled a shot or two of the tequila before mixing it into the recipe. Hey! Every good cook tastes things along the way. Am I right? Anyway, I think you’ll find these cookies quite refreshing! Give them a try today and avoid Target as best you can.

Margarita Cookies

recipe from: Smitten Kitchen

yield: 40 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces; 230 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (70 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons tequila
  • Grated zest of 2 limes
  • Grate zest of half an orange
  • 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour

Coating:

  • Approximately 1/2 cup clear sanding or other coarse sugar
  • 2 teaspoons flaky Maldon sea salt

Directions:

Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until it is smooth. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and beat again until the mixture is smooth and silky. Beat in 1 of the egg yolks, followed by the salt, tequila, grated lime and orange zest. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, beating just until it disappears. It is better to underbeat than overbeat at this point; if the flour isn’t fully incorporated, that’s ok–just blend in whatever remaining flour needs blending with a rubber spatula. Turn the dough out onto a counter, gather it into a ball, and divide it in half. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Working on a smooth surface, form each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 to 1 1/4 inches (2.5 to 3.2 cm) thick. Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for 2 hours. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and kept refrigerated for up to 3 days or stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.)

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

While the oven is preheating, work on the sugar coating: Whisk the remaining egg yolk in a small bowl until it is smooth and liquid enough to use as a glaze. Mix the coarse sugar and flaky salt well and spread the mixture out on a piece of wax paper. Remove the logs of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap them, and brush them lightly with a little egg yolk. Roll the logs in the sugar, pressing the sugar/salt mixture gently to get it to stick if necessary, then, using a sharp slender knife, slice each log into cookies about 1/4 inch (7 mm) thick. [Smitten Kitchen note: To get the sugar/salt mixture to stick better, move the log over to a piece of plastic wrap, and in the sort of technique you'd see a sushi chef use to shape a roll, use the plastic to press the sugar in by wrapping it tightly.] (You can make the cookies thicker if you’d like; just bake them longer.) Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets, leaving about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) space between them.

Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are set but not browned. (It’s fine if the yolk-brushed edges brown a smidgen.) Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature.

Enjoy!


Orange Creamsicle Cookies

April 16, 2012

I love Spring. Although Fall is my favourite season, Spring is a close second. All the flowers are blooming, the trees sprouting new leaves, the birds are singing and all of these wonders taking place in the perfect temperature range. You know anywhere from 55°F (12°C) up to 70°F (21°C), mind you when it gets up to that 70°F mark I start getting antsy. Nervous about what hellaciously hot and humid Virginia summer temperatures are lurking right around the corner. Imagine my dismay yesterday when the old mercury shot up to 85°F (29° C) and today, I’m told it is destined to be 88°F (31°C). What the what! It’s only April! After the mild winter we had, I was nervous that summer around these parts would be completely off the hook and it looks like my fears will soon be realized! Boo!

So, I was trying to think of what was comforting back in my childhood. Certainly that window air conditioning unit in the dining room was a close friend. But then I remembered ice cream. Those Orange Creamsicle ice cream pops in particular. Which lead me to recall a recipe that I had seen for Orange Creamsicle Cookies. I set out to make them immediately. Thank goodness this all took place early in the morning, before the temperature shot up, so that I could have my oven all fired up without totally passing out from heat exhaustion in the process. These little cookies were all I dreamed they would be and with the orange zest and white chocolate chip mixture, they really did taste like the creamsicles of my youth. Lovely citrus-y little gems that taste like a burst of Spring with each bite. Make some this morning and get your mind off both the current unseasonable heat as well as the promise of the sweltering Summer to come!

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

recipe from: Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

yield: 45 smallish cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange zest, grated
  • 12 ounces (2 cups) white chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375° F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture until combined. Stir in orange zest and white chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown around edges. Cool for 3 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Enjoy!


Guinness Chocolate Chip Cookies

March 14, 2012

Boozy Chocolate Chip Cookies?! Now we’re cooking with gas! These little gems are the perfect nibbler for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The cookies are really delicious, bursting with the flavour of three, that’s right I said three, types of chocolate chips, white chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate and milk chocolate.

And you don’t stop there, Oh no! Then you add in some Guinness.  And Yup, you really can taste the Guinness in them. To get that intense Guinness flavour, you cook Guinness and brown sugar down until you get a thick Guinness syrup which you then add to the cookie dough. That reduction does take a fair chunk of time, about 45 minutes, so make sure you allow for it. But you will be rewarded threefold for your patience. I can tell you with complete confidence that St. Patrick’s Day will not be the only time of the year you will find these little devils lurking around my pantry! Cookies and beer…who woulda thunk it?!

Guinness Chocolate Chip Cookies

recipe from: Sweet Twist of Blogging

ingredients:

for the syrup:

  • 2 cans (12 oz)  of Guinness
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

for the cookies:

  • 2 3/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions:

Add beer and brown sugar to a medium sauce pan.  Reduce liquid over medium high heat until liquid thickens to a syrup and measure approximately 1/3 cup.  This will take 30-45 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with silpat/parchment.  In a medium bowl combine flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl or mixer bowl, cream together butter, shortening and sugars until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add eggs, syrup and vanilla, beat to combine.

Add flour mixture to the wet mixture, cream together until flour is just combined.

Fold in all chocolate chunks.

Using a cookie scoop drop dough on to prepared baking sheets. Bake 12-14 minutes.  Let cookies cool on sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy!


Digestive Biscuits

March 6, 2012

Don’t be nervous. There is really nothing medicinal about these biscuits. And by biscuits, I mean cookies for all those Americans who are reading this. I first discovered these lovely cookies while living in Ireland. I was a bit skittish around them at first, thinking they sounded more like some sort of medicinal curative, rather than a delicious treat. But once I gathered up my courage and took that first bite, I was hooked! These semi-sweet cookies, which have been baked in the U.K. since the mid 1800′s, seem to have been made to enjoy along with tea or coffee but also serve as a great base for pies or cheese cakes. They are most similar to graham crackers which are common here in the U.S., but in my opinion, better. I do have a favourite brand as well. McVitie’s all the way!

Digestive Biscuits are sometimes a bit challenging to find here in the States, but I seem to have found a great source in World Market and sometimes my local Giant has my brand as well. Even though I am completely happy with my McVitie’s, I was still very intrigued when I came across a post for home-made Digestive Biscuits. I was so taken with Mary Mary’s take on this recipe, that I had to copy her right down to the adorable “home-made” cookie stamp that she had used for her biscuits. I found the exact stamp on Amazon and purchased it right away. Too cute, I just couldn’t resist.

The home-made digestives were very easy to make, though the dough was a slight bit persnickity to work with. They taste quite similar to my store bought variety, but are more soft rather than crispy. I did roll mine out a bit thicker so that I could use my stamp. I think if I had rolled them thinner, they would have been a bit more crispy. They are still fantastic. I’m enjoying one with a cup of tea right now! Home make a batch for yourself today!

Digestive Biscuits

recipe from: Mary Mary Culinary

yield: 30 biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams/8.8 ounces whole wheat flour
  • 250 grams/8.8 ounces quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 125 grams/4.4 ounces soft brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt (this gave a distinct salty edge–can halve it if you like)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 250 grams/8.8 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • about 1 tablespoon milk (I needed 3 1/2 Tablespoons)

Directions:

Combine all dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. This amount filled my food processor, but it was fine. Add butter and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. You can also do this easily by hand–it’s a bit like making pie crust.

Gradually add the milk and pulse until it comes together into a slightly sticky dough. I found it easiest to do this by kneading the dough by hand, after transferring it to a large bowl.

Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate about 30 minutes, or for a few days. Remove from the fridge about an hour before you want to bake it, as it gets very hard.

Preheat oven to 350°F/180℃. Dust the table and dough with flour and roll to 3-4 mm thickness, or thicker for a softer, crumblier cookie. The dough is sticky and crumbly, but if you are gentle it’s easy to roll. Cut with a 6-7 cm (2½”) cutter and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes, checking after 5. You want them to be golden brown around the edges and lightly coloured on top. Let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!


Cranberry, Pistachio and White Chocolate Biscotti

January 3, 2012

I actually did it! I managed to make Biscotti all on my own! And not any old Biscotti, this Cranberry, Pistachio and White Chocolate Biscotti rocks! It is far and away, the best Biscotti I have ever eaten! My friend John originally turned me on to Biscotti by bringing me Whole Food’s Cranberry Pistachio version, telling me “This stuff is fantastic! You should try it.” Well, truth be told, although I was thankful he was so thoughtful, I wasn’t thrilled with idea of the biscotti. Every Biscotti I had eaten up until that point had been very dry, like chewing sawdust, with very little flavour. Furthermore, it was often so hard that I just knew it had a high probability of cracking every tooth I had it my head! So, the Whole Food Biscotti got pushed aside for a few days. But John had been so enthusiastic about them, I decided to give them a try. Armed with a cup of coffee to lessen the likely hood of a sudden trip to the dentist, I tentatively dunked and then tasted. John was right! These Biscotti were fantastic! Fast forward to about a month ago, I happened to see Giada De Laurentis making Biscotti on the Food Network. She made it look very easy, so I gave it a whirl.

The only thing I changed in her recipe is that she dipped her Cranberry, Pistachio Biscotti in melted White Chocolate and then sprinkled them with red and green sanding sugar to give them a real Holiday feel. I decided to simply add some white chocolate chips to the mix and skip the dipping. I thought that the red cranberries and green pistachios give it all the Holiday cheer it needed. (and I might be a bit lazy…) The results? These Biscotti put the Whole Foods version to shame. They are full of flavour, you can really taste the cranberries, and have an awesome texture, crunchy yet still moist.

My husband happened to pop into the kitchen just after I had taken my first bite to find me literally dancing about. Being somewhat leery of Biscotti himself, for the same reasons I had been, he was a bit hesitant to try them. But watching my happy dance, he couldn’t resist and now is a Biscotti fan himself! He loved them. He loved them so much he is asking me to make an Apricot Dark Chocolate version which I am planning to do later this week. Even our dog loves them, so much he can recognize the sound of the Biscotti container opening and will immediately run to the kitchen. (Not that we spoil our dog by giving him people food…) So, I guess I’m saying, don’t put up with that brick bat hard, tasteless, cardboardy store-bought Biscotti any longer, make some for yourself and see how delicious it can truly be!

Cranberry Pistachio and White Chocolate Biscotti

recipe from Giada De Laurentis via the Food Network

yield: about 15 biscotti

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios, cranberries and white chocolate.

Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.

Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.

Enjoy!


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