Friday, May 26, 2017

Macadamia Brownie Cookies

My husband and I recently took a trip with my parents to the Washington coast. While it was a rainy weekend, we had a great time and really enjoyed being able to relax. We visited one town and went to their farmer’s market and visited local shops. I think everyone in my family enjoys looking at kitchen stores, so we spent some time in the several kitchen stores. I don’t really need any new kitchen items, but it is fun to look.

I came across this cookbook, Slice & Bake Cookies. I don’t make a lot of slice & bake or refrigerator cookies, but some of the recipes looked interesting. I checked to see if the public library had a copy, and they did! I checked it out and explored the cookbook some more. I decided to try this recipe and it looked very classic. I am excited for the prospect of refrigerator cookies, as I could have some ready in the freezer for when I run out of time to bake cookies (or something turns out poorly).

This recipe was a walnut chocolate cookie, but I had some lovely macadamias on hand. You don’t want them to sit around too long or the nuts get stale. The dough comes together without much trouble. It is a little oily, and honestly, the dough is so soft you can’t shape the dough into logs right away. I suggest you refrigerate the dough some before shaping, shape, refrigerate, and finally roll in the nuts and shape one last time. They ended up being quite large cookies, so I would make a narrower roll next time. These have a strong chocolate flavor, not overwhelmingly sweet. A couple of the cookies broke, but I think that wouldn’t be a problem with smaller cookies. I think I will buy this cookbook, and I’m looking forward to trying more recipes!

Macadamia Brownie Cookies
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
1-1/4 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/3 cups mini chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts

In the top of a double boiler, over simmering water, combine the chocolates and butter. Stir until the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, add the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Beat on medium until the mixture lightens in color, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add the chocolate mixture. Mix on low until the chocolate is incorporated. Add the flour mixture and stir on low until no white streaks remain. Stir in the mini chocolate chips.

Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes. Divide the dough into two halves, and shape each half into a log about 2 inches in diameter. The dough will be soft and the logs may not keep their shape. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Unwrap the logs, roll them in the chopped macadamia nuts and then rewrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats. Allow the cookie dough logs to sit at room temperature while the oven heats.

Slice the logs into ½” slices and place on the prepared baking sheets. The cookies will spread as they bake so don’t bake more than 12 cookies at a time.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until set but still slightly soft inside. Allow to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Slice & Bake Cookies by Elinor Klivans

Friday, May 19, 2017

Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

Each month at work I bring a birthday cake for all the folks at work with birthdays that month. I baked this month’s cake earlier in the week. While that would normally not exasperate my baking mojo for the week, the cake I made presented some challenges. Frosting didn’t turn out, ganache wasn’t quite right, etc. In the end the cake was great, but for the cookies this week I wanted something simple.

I have been planning to make these chocolate cheesecake cookies for a few weeks. After planning the cake, I hadn’t planned my other baking. I had the ingredients for these cookies, they looked like they would come together with little stress. I wasn’t sure how the cream cheese would do in the cookies, as I typically only use cream cheese in bar cookies.

The dough when mixed together is very similar to thick brownie batter. Reading the original recipe, I knew what to expect. It was sticky but a cookie scoop makes quick work of it. These don’t spread much, so I baked 20 per sheet rather than my typical 12. This made about 60 small cookies, which was a lot! Knowing how long to bake them is a challenge. I baked the first batch 9 minutes, and they were a little gooey. Not that this is a bad thing! 10 minutes seemed just perfect. The cookies are soft and cakey, with a good chocolate brownie flavor. These aren’t complex, but sometimes less is more.

Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium until smooth. Add the sugar and beat again on medium until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour/cocoa powder mixture. Stirring just until incorporated. To avoid over mixing, you may want to do the last bit of mixing by hand with a spatula.

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 10-11 minutes, until set. They will be soft but will set as they cool. Do not over bake.

Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and dust with powdered sugar.

Recipe from Yellow Bliss Road

Friday, May 12, 2017

Almond Marmalade Slice

We had some sun, but it is fleeting and now it is rainy again. I chose these bars as a way to channel the sunny weather. I’m not sure that worked, but it is nice to bake something springy. These bars originally called for orange marmalade, but just like other interesting baking ingredients, I sometimes pick up interesting jams and jellies. I had a jar of Lemon and Lime marmalade, and this seemed like the perfect recipe for it.

This recipe is labeled as a “slice” which we would call a bar cookie in the States. This is an Australian recipe, which I have found to have excellent bar cookie recipes! The only challenge is that it calls for a 20 by 30 (or 19 by 29) centimeter pan. That isn’t something you can find readily locally, but I do have a tart pan that is the right size. If you don’t have this super special pan, a 9: inch square pan would certainly work just fine.

This recipe called for both plain flour and self-rising flour. In the UK and Australia, self-rising flour is very common. It’s just flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt mixed in. I make my own, so for this recipe I have converted the amounts to the individual ingredients. I wasn’t sure what lemon and lime marmalade would taste like. In the bars it is subtle, sweet, but not bitter. They are ever so slightly reminiscent of lemon bars, but not as soft. They are delicate and buttery.

Almond Marmalade Slice
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
¾ cup butter, melted
2/3 cup marmalade

Preheat oven to 390 degrees. Line a 20 x 30 centimeter (or a 9” square) pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Place 1 cup of the sliced almonds in the food processor and process until ground. In a large mixer bowl, add the ground almonds, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add the melted butter and stir on medium until the mixture comes together in large crumbs.

Reserve 1/3 of the crumb mixture; press the remaining dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Allow the crust to cool slightly, about 20 minutes.

Spread the marmalade over the partially cooled crust. Mix the remaining ½ cup of sliced almonds with the reserved crumb mixture. Sprinkle the almond/crumb mixture on top of the marmalade.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the topping is lightly golden. Cool in the pan before cutting into bars.