Friday, December 2, 2016

Leckerli




When I got Dorie Greenspan’s new cookie cookbook, I saw this recipe and knew I wanted to make it as part of my Christmas cookies. Although it wasn’t it the holiday cookie chapter, just looking at the ingredients you know it is Christmas: honey, candied fruit, almond, spices. In reading the description, Dorie calls it a Swiss gingerbread. I think of it as a thin, blonde gingerbread.

I usually do a good job of reading a recipe in advance, and that is necessary for this recipe as the dough needs to age for a couple of days before baking. I did read that part, but looking at the photo in the book I figured it was a bar cookie. Yeah, it isn’t. This was one of the most unusual techniques I have used in making cookies! The dough is super sticky, then you roll it out to a square, bake it as a square, then slice it into bars. 

I can’t roll things into a square very successfully, but since you eventually cut the cookies into bars, it doesn’t matter all that much. I just trimmed the ragged edges after baking to make them even. My cookies baked a little quickly, as mine were perhaps a little thinner than 1/3” thick. They are a little hard to cut, as they are quite sticky and dense. I do love the flavor of these. I think they taste a lot like lebkuchen, which isn’t surprising as they contain similar ingredients. These cookies take a lot of time and a bit more work than many of the cookies I typically bake, but it was really fun to try something so different.

Leckerli
2/3 cup honey
½ cup sugar
½ cup finely chopped candied orange peel
Zest of 1 orange
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

In a medium saucepan, combine the honey and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the candied orange peel and orange zest. Transfer the mixture into a mixing bowl and allow to cool for 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper. Stir the almonds and Grand Marnier into the cooled honey mixture. Gradually add the flour mixture. The dough will be very sticky and heavy, and will take quite a bit of effort to get all the flour incorporated.

On a piece of lightly floured parchment paper, turn out the dough and pat into a rough square. Dust the dough with flour and cover with another piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough into an approximate 12” square. The dough should be about 1/3” thick. Keep the parchment in place and wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Keep at room temperature for 24 hours, or refrigerate for 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.

Unwrap the dough and place it on the baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the dough is golden. Slide the silicone baking mat off the baking sheet and allow to cool on a wire rack.

As soon as the Leckerli comes out of the oven, make the glaze. Whisk the powdered sugar, water and Grand Marnier until smooth. Brush the glaze over the warm cookies. Allow the cookies to cool to room temperature.

Cut the dough into 3” wide strips, and then cut each strip into bars about ¾” wide.

Recipe from Dorie's Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

Friday, November 25, 2016

Ginger Cookies with Dark Chocolate Chunks



It’s time for Christmas cookies! Last year I didn’t bake very many Christmas cookies, but I don’t think that I’ll make the 12 days of Christmas cookies like I have done in years past, but I do have several recipes that I want to try. You can’t have Christmas cookies without some sort of ginger cookie, although, to be honest, I would bake these cookies any time of year because I really like ginger.

This is a cookie that you could make in one evening, but it is a lot easier to divide up the work and make the dough one day and bake the next. It has been a busy week, with Thanksgiving, taking care of a kitty while his kitty parents are gone, and amid all of this, my car wouldn’t start. Needless to say, the week has been a bit crazy. It only takes a couple of minutes to make the dough. Then refrigerate. Then shape the dough, refrigerate again, and then bake. Easier not to have to do everything at once.

This is a chocolate ginger cookie, with chocolate coming from a small amount of cocoa powder in the dough and dark chocolate chunks. They are quite dark, thanks to the molasses. The molasses puts these cookies on the edge of bitter, but that is balanced by the ginger and chocolate. They are quite soft when they come out of the oven, but don’t bake them longer; better under baked that over baked. I liked these cookies a lot, they are an interesting mix of flavors and the perfect first Christmas cookie of the season.

Ginger Cookies with Dark Chocolate Chunks
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon freshly grated peeled ginger
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water
7 ounces dark chocolate chunks
Granulated sugar, for rolling

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and fresh ginger on medium until light.  Add the brown sugar and mix until combined, then add the molasses and mix until combined.

In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low. Mix in the baking soda mixture and then add the remaining flour mixture, stirring on low until combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats. 

Shape the dough into 1-1/4 inch balls. Place on a plate and refrigerate for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, roll the balls in sugar and place on the prepared baking sheets. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes, there will be some cracks in the cookies, but will still be soft. Half way through the baking time, rotate the baking sheets. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  

Recipe from Handle the Heat

Friday, November 18, 2016

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Blondies



If you need to bake for an event, but are short on time, I think that bar cookies are the answer. They are usually quicker to make, as you just have one baking time. You can also make them in advance and they hold up great! You can do just about any combination of flavors in a bar cookie, so the sky’s the limit! I don’t always have a lot of time in the evening to bake, so bar cookies, where I can bake the cookies one night and cut them another, are often my choice to make.

I’ve had the ingredients on hand to make these for some time. They were kind of my back up cookie, if I couldn’t decide on another cookie. These don’t require anything that unusual, just white chocolate and peanut butter chips, which I often buy and then use in other recipes! Oh well. I had just under 1-1/2 cups of white chocolate chips, so I just added a little extra peanut butter chips. Bar cookies also tend to be forgiving, which is nice.

These cookies are very easy to make. The dough is a little oily, which is different. You bake these uncovered and then covered, so that they don’t brown too quickly. The original recipe said to bake these for about 30 minutes total. My bars were still quite raw at that time, so I kept baking them for a couple more minutes, then a couple more. Perhaps I could have taken them out of the oven a minute or two earlier, but they are nicely browned. The edges are too dark, but you cut those off anyway! These have a wonderful sweet salty peanut taste, which is fabulous.
               
White Chocolate Peanut Butter Blondies
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 and 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
Additional peanut butter chips, optional
Sea salt, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9" x 13" pan with aluminum foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. 

In a large mixer bowl, combine the melted butter, peanut butter and brown sugar. Beat on medium to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for one minute before adding the next. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the salt, flour, and baking powder. Stir in the white chocolate and peanut butter chips. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with additional peanut butter chips and sea salt (if desired).

 Bake the blondies for 15 minutes, then cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 additional minutes, until they're light brown. Allow the bars to cool completely.

Once the bars are cool, lift them from the pan and peel away the foil. Cut into bars.

Recipe from Baker by Nature