Hot Chocolate Cookies

Hot Chocolate Cookies

Hot Chocolate Cookies

Hi, folks,  How are you?  Are you doing all of those things that winter offers?   Snowball fights?  Mittens?  Ski Caps?  Building snow men?  Hot chocolate?

I’d like to tell you that I’m frolicking in the snow, but I’m afraid of flying ice balls, afraid of skiing, especially the lift part, and very afraid of falling down and breaking an important bone somewhere in my body.  So I’m indoors looking out, watching the icicles hanging from the roof grow longer and longer every day.  Since today is a Monday (as I write this), it’s snowing again.

This winter has become so predictable.  You know, like, “if it’s Monday it must be snowing”.  Schools are closed, Mr. D. home from work, and all appointments cancelled.  I’m getting used to it!

One thing I really like to do on a day like this, is make myself a cup of hot chocolate,  with a marshmallow, or cream on top and a sprinkle of shaved chocolate.    Mmmmmm, so warming, so good.   But that fits into the predictable routine, what I want is something unpredictable, like these cookies.

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Let’s have our hot chocolate and eat it too!!

These cookies incorporate all the ingredients you expect to find in a cup of hot chocolate. They are rich, chocolaty and delicious.  They are great for any time of year, but I think wintertime is perfect, and especially for Valentine’s Day.  Change the colored sprinkles for any other holiday or special occasion.  They are always a hit.

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HOT CHOCOLATE COOKIES

Yield:   Makes about 50  cookies

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butterIMG_9150
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1  1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 25 (aprox) large marshmallows

For the icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugarIMG_9171
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • assorted sprinkles

Directions:

1.  In a medium saucepan, or a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring frequently.

 

Choc. chips and butter in microwave safe bowl.

Choc. chips and butter in microwave safe bowl.

In the microwave, at 50% power, this takes approximately 1 1/2 minutes.  Heat for 1 minute, stir, and reheat for another 30 seconds if needed.  Stirring will help the chocolate to blend with the butter and become thick and smooth.  Once melted, set aside to cool slightly.

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2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

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3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla on low speed until well combined.

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4.  Add the cooled chocolate mixture and blend until just combined.

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5.  While mixing, add the flour mixture slowly and blend until all is incorporated.

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Scrape down the bowl, then cover and refrigerate about 1 hour.  If making the dough a day ahead, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping.

6.  Preheat the oven to 325*F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat type liner.  Use a tablespoon (or a tablespoon sized scoop) to scoop the dough, then roll with your hands to create balls.  Arrange the balls about 2-inches apart on the baking sheets, then flatten slightly.   Bake cookies for about 12 minutes.

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7.  While the cookies bake, cut the marshmallows in half crosswise.  This will be easier to do if you  dip the knife blade into a glass of hot water after every marshmallow.  Cuts easily, with no sticking.

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When the cookies have baked, remove from oven and press one marshmallow half -cut side down- into the center of each cookie.

Cookies after baking.

Cookies after baking.

 

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Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 2 – 3 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

After baking the marshmallows will puff a little but do not turn brown.

After baking the marshmallows will puff a little but do not turn brown.

8.  Make the icing:  combine melted butter, sugar and cocoa in a medium bowl add vanilla and gradually add the water, mixing as you go, until the icing reaches a smooth consistency and is thick but still able to drizzle.   Place wire cooling rack with cookies on it over a baking sheet–to catch any icing drips.  Spoon a small amount of icing onto the top of each marshmallow, and use the back of the spoon to spread it a bit.  Let the icing run over the edges of the marshmallow, onto the cookie.  After icing just a couple of cookies, top with sprinkles before the icing dries.  Continue icing the remainder of the cookies in the same way.

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9.  Allow icing to set up about 30 minutes before serving, or storing in an airtight container.

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SOURCE:   The basic cookie is an adaptation of a chocolate cookie from Rachael Ray

 

Mocha Fingers

Mocha Fingers

Mocha Fingers

Recipes, ingredients and baking equipment change over the years, but cookies have always been a family favorite at Christmas.  Each cookie that we make is a sweet bite of memory, and cookies tell the story of who we are, who we have been, and who we will always be.

The recipe for these “finger” cookies appeared originally in a Special Interest Publication by Better Homes and Gardens, back in 1996.  I have a hugh collection of these special publication magazines devoted to Christmas and each year I get them out and look through them for inspiration on baking and cooking for the Holidays.  These cookies are not hard to make and they are so good.  A little more work to make than a simple drop cookie, but well worth the effort.

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Which will it be?  In your cup or in a cookie, mocha–a blend of coffee and chocolate–is one of the season’s hottest flavors.  It’s a flavor that I particularly love at any time, but around this time of year it seems so right.

These are sophisticated, butter-cream-filled chocolate cookies.  Marvelous with a glass of eggnog!

They are not difficult to make–mix up a simple chocolate dough, roll out thin and cut into “fingers” measuring 1 1/2″ x 3″. Once baked two crisp cookies are sandwiched together with a velvety smooth mocha butter cream filling.  Really pretty simple, but awesome in flavor!

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Warning!!  Once you know how to made this mocha butter cream, you’re going to want to find other uses for it.

MOCHA FINGERS

Yield:  Makes about 27-28 sandwich cookiesIMG_8713

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter ( 1 stick), softened
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •  1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg

Mocha Filling:IMG_8757

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. instant espresso coffee powder
  • 1 -2 tsp. milk or light cream as needed

Directions:

1.  Into the large bowl of electric mixer, combine butter and sugar, mixing on low to blend.  Add egg and continue to mix.  Blend in dry ingredients, (flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder).  Scrape bowl occasionally and mix until well combined. Note: Chilling the dough is not required, but I find it easier to roll the dough if it has chilled at least an hour.

2.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease 2 large cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

3.  On a lightly floured surface, with rolling pin, roll half the dough out into a 9″ x 9″ square, about 1/8-inch thick.  Cut dough into thirds; then cut each third crosswise into nine 3″ x 1″ rectangles.  Place cookies about 1 inch apart, on cookie sheets.  With a fork, prick each cookie in several places for decoration.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar if desired.

Cut dough into rectangles and prick with a fork before baking.

Cut dough into rectangles and prick with a fork before baking.

4.  Bake cookies 15 minutes or until firm.  With a spatula remove cookies to wire rack to cool.  Repeat with remaining dough.

5.  Make Mocha Filling:  In a small bowl with mixer on low speed, beat 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder, and 2 tsp. espresso powder.  Add milk in tiny amounts as needed to get a creamy spreading consistency.

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6.  Assemble cookies:  Spread bottoms of half of cookies with Mocha Filling; top with remaining cookies, top-side up.

Spread back side of one cookie with filling, top with another cookie, right side up.

Spread back side of one cookie with filling, top with another cookie, right side up.

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Store cookies in tightly covered container.   Makes about 27 sandwich cookies.

 

SOURCE:   Better Homes and Gardens, Christmas Cookies

Cookies and Cream Cookies

Cookies and Cream Cookies

Cookies and Cream Cookies

At my house we are just a little crazy for cookies and cream flavored anything:  candy bars, ice cream, milk shakes.  So when I came across this recipe for cookies and cream cookies I knew they would be a hit for sure.

They are based on a candy product by Hershey called “Cookies ‘n Creme Drops”.  They are available  in Target and other larger stores, but I also found them at my local grocery store.

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I remember back when there were Cookies in my Ice Cream!   That was back in the day….before ice cream was loaded with everything but the kitchen sink.   (Not that I’m complaining.)

These cookies are big, thick, substantial, chocolatey cookies.  Know what  Mr. D. is suggesting?   Topping one with a scoop of Cookies and Cream Ice Cream.   Now why didn’t I think of that?    See, that’s why I keep him around 🙂

You’ll need three mix-ins for these cookies:  the cookies and creme drops that I’ve already mentioned,  Oreo cookies, and white chocolate chips.  You’ll also need a muffin top pan or whoopie pie pan.  I found mine on Amazon.

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COOKIES AND CREAM COOKIES

Yield:  Makes 18 to 20 large cookiesIMG_7969

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa ( or any dark cocoa)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter,
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs,
  • 1 TBSP. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Hershey’s Cookies and Creme Drops
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, reserving a few for the tops
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped Oreos

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Directions:

1.  Grease a muffin top/ whoopie pie pan with shortening.

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2.  Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

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3.  In a large bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add in the eggs one at a tine, beating until well combined.  Beat in the vanilla.

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4.  Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, beating on low.  Stir in the drops, chips, and Oreos.    The dough will be somewhat sticky.  Refrigerate it for 1 hour to make it easier to work with.

Stir in all the extra goodies.

Stir in all the extra goodies.

5.  Preheat oven to 350*F.

6.  Scoop 1/4 cup dough into each pan cavity.  Wet finger and lightly press the dough down and smooth out.  It may not cover the entire cavity of the pan; that’s ok.  Press a few of the reserved white chips onto the top of the dough. ( I forgot to do this with mine.)

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7.  Bake for 15 – 18 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 3 – 5 minutes.  Run a small spatula along the edge of the pan and lift onto a cooling rack.    Rinse the pan with cool water, regrease it, and continue baking the remainder of the batter.

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Make these.   You know you want to!!

 

SOURCE:   Cookies and Cups

Dulce de Leche Fluff Brownies

Dulce de Leche Fluff Brownies

Dulce de Leche Fluff Brownies

So many celebrations this month!  May is one of the busiest months around here.  Beginning today with Cinco de Mayo and continuing right on through Memorial Day, I have something on my calendar every weekend, sometimes more than one event, and they all involve preparation of food on my part. I just hope I can keep up with it.  If I drop out of sight for a day or two you’ll know what happened…..I fell off the edge.

So,  today Mr. D. has an office pot-luck lunch in honor of Cinco de Mayo.  His co-workers have special dishes they prepare around that theme so I’m not going to compete with them,  I’ll tackle the dessert.   What I decided on are these Dulce de Leche Brownies.  Who doesn’t like brownies?   When you add toppings like Marshmallow Creme and Dulce de Leche plus chopped pecans…..swoon!!….If I were there, I’d start with dessert, thank you.

Imagine a fudgy brownie underneath all this gooey-ness.

Imagine a fudgy brownie underneath all this gooey-ness.

I just know these are fabulous brownies, I’ve made them before this.   I couldn’t taste them, however, because  when you bake for an event, you really can’t send a pan of brownies with one corner missing….. or can you?    Anyway I hope my photos get you salivating and anxious to try these wonderful brownies.  I omitted the chopped pecans on top because of possible nut allergies among the group of people who will be eating these.

DULCE DE LECHE FLUFF BROWNIES

Yield:    42 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 0unces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

    A pan of brownies, + marshmallow creme, + dulce de leche=heaven.

    A pan of brownies, + marshmallow creme, + dulce de leche=heaven.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1  1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1  13.4- ounce can dulce de leche
  • 1  7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Directions:

1.  In a medium saucepan cook and stir unsweetened chocolate and butter over low heat until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat; cool slightly.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350*F.  Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of pan.  Grease foil; set pan aside. I omitted this step because my brownies are going to travel in the baking pan which has a cover—-much safer for Mr. D. to carry to work.

2.  Stir sugar into chocolate mixture.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition just until combined.  Stir in vanilla.  In a small bowl stir together flour an baking soda.  Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture; stir just until combined.  Stir in semisweet chocolate pieces.  Pour batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading evenly.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until ages are set and center is almost set.

3.  Meanwhile transfer dulce de leche to a small microwave-safe bowl (or leave it in its jar if that is microwaveable).  Microwave on 100 percent power about 1 minute or until softened, stirring once.

4.  Remove brownies from oven and set pan on a wire rack.  Immediately spoon marshmallow creme in mounds on top of hot brownies. (Having a glass of water handy to dip knife blade into, makes dealing with the sticky marshmallow creme a whole lot easier.)

Drop mounds of marshmallow fluff on top of warm brownies.

Drop mounds of marshmallow fluff on top of warm brownies.

Drop spoonfuls of dulce de leche between mounds of marshmallow creme.  Let stand for a few minutes to soften.  Using a table knife or narrow metal spatula, gently swirl marshmallow creme and dulce de leche together to marble.  Sprinkle with pecans,  Cool in pan on rack.

Fill in the open spaces with dulce de leche, and swirl together.

Fill in the open spaces with dulce de leche, and swirl together.

5.  Using the edges of the foil, lift uncut brownies out of pan.  Cut into brownies, wiping knife as needed between cuts.

These brownies are oowey, gooey good!

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SOURCE:   Better Homes and Gardens

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Beer Frosting

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Beer Frosting

Cupcakes-on-tap….that’s right, beer cupcakes.

Cupcakes are not traditionally considered  “dude” food.  You know–too dainty, too pretty, too sprinkle-y.  Whatever!

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But these Whoa,  these are BEER  cupcakes.  Beer is in the cake, and more beer in the frosting.  I didn’t even pipe on the frosting in dainty swirls, I just plopped it on.  Very manly.  And what was the occasion for these cupcakes?  I’m so glad you asked.

One of my husband’s good friends at the office was leaving, and on his last day, everyone pitched in for a pot-luck luncheon.  So I made these cupcakes, and being that it was so close to St. Patrick’s Day I just had to scatter a little green sugar on the tops, and then finish off each cupcake with a  chocolate covered pretzel.    Beer and pretzels!

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The beer I used is Guinness, and I’ll admit I had a few sips before using it in the recipe.  Let me tell you, I know what my beverage of choice will be to go with these cupcakes (if there are any left over).

These cupcakes are deep, rich, and not the least bit dry.  They are not overly beer-y.  The frosting?   C’mon, beer frosting!!!?  It is divine.

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CUPCAKES ON TAP (BEER CUPCAKES)

Yield:   Makes 24

Ingredients:IMG_6801

  • 12 Tablespoons (  1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup porter or stout beer, poured and settled before you measure
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup full fat sour cream
  • 1  1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1  1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the frosting:

(Feel free to use all butter instead of a mix of butter and shortening.  You could also substitute part cream cheese for the shortening.)

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 7-8 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons porter or stout, poured and settled before you measure
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate covered pretzels, optional

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*f.  Line 24 muffin cups with liners.

2.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa until smooth.  Stir in the beer and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

This is already looking unbelievably good.

This is already looking unbelievably good.

3.  With an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream until smooth.

Beat eggs ad butter together.

Beat eggs and sour cream together.

Add in the cooled chocolate mixture and beat until combined.

Beating in the chocolate mixture.

Beating in the chocolate mixture.

4.  Add the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt and beat on medium speed until combined.  Scrape down the bottom and side of bowl as needed.

5.  Spoon the batter into the cups, filling about 2/3rds full.

IMG_6780Bake for 15 minutes at 350* until cupcakes bounce back when lightly pressed with a finger or until a toothpick comes out clean.  My cupcakes needed 20 minutes baking time before they tested done.

These rise to about the top of the paper liners.

These rise to about the top of the paper liners.

6.  Cool in the pans for 5 minutes then remove and place on wire cooling racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting:   Using an electric mixer beat the butter and shortening on medium until combined and fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar, beer, vanilla and salt, mixing on low until incorporated, then beat on medium-high for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

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I used a cookie dough scoop to portion out the frosting, dropping a scoop onto each cupcake.  Sprinkle with a little colored sugar if desired and top with a chocolate covered pretzel.  These cupcakes are incredibly light, with a deep, “dark” flavor; the frosting is also light and creamy.

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SOURCE:   adapted from The Butch Bakery Cookbook

Chocolate Almond Cherry Biscotti

Chocolate Almond Cherry Biscotti

Chocolate Almond Cherry Biscotti

Don’t try to resist these.  Just go with the flow and have one (or two) with  a warm cup of coffee, or hot cocoa.  Oh, my, they are beyond good.

Perfect with a cup of coffee or cocoa.

Perfect with a cup of coffee or cocoa.

If you have never made biscotti before, let me assure you they are not hard.  Yes, they bake twice.  That’s what gives them their crunch.  First you mix up the dough and shape it into a log on a baking sheet.  Then the log is baked and allowed to cool a bit.  Then you slice it crosswise, and bake it again.  These cookies are crunchy and chocolatey.  Chock full of chopped almonds and sweet dried cherries, then they’re dipped into melted semisweet chocolate for that extra special Valentine touch.  Ta-da!!

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These are perfect for dessert, teatime, with a cup of cappuccino, perfect for breakfast, perfect for packaging up and giving this Valentine’s Day.  Did I say they are perfect?       Ooooo-yeah!

CHOCOLATE ALMOND CHERRY BISCOTTI

YIELD:   16-18 pieces

Lots of good things go into these lovely biscotti.

Lots of good things go into these lovely biscotti.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1  3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup dried cherriesIMG_6461

For chocolate dip:

  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips, divided
  • 2 tsp. shortening

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2.  With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar till fluffy.  Add in the eggs and extracts, beating till well combined.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, almond flour, baking powder and salt.

Mix dry ingredients together.

Mix dry ingredients together.

With the mixer on “Low”, add in the dry ingredients in several batches.  Stir in the almonds and cherries.

4.  Spoon the dough onto the baking sheet diagonally in a long line.  With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into a log that measures approx. 14″ x 3″.   Smooth the top with a rubber spatula if necessary.

Shape dough into a "log".

Shape dough into a “log”.

5.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes.

The log, after baking.

The log, after baking.

6.  Reduce oven temperature to 325*F.   Spritz log lightly with water just to slightly moisten the crust.  Cut crosswise into strips about  3/4-inch to 1-inch wide.  Stand upright.

Spritz the crust lightly, cut crosswise, and stand upright.

Spritz the crust lightly, cut crosswise, and stand slices upright.

7.  Return to the oven and bake an additional 25 – 30 minutes till dry.  Remove and let cool completely.

8.  To Dip:  Melt 2/3 cup chips and the shortening in a microwave safe dish ( about 45 seconds at 50% power).  Stir to smooth out, then stir in the remaining chips and stir again till smooth.  Dip bottoms of biscotti into the chocolate.  Let dry on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet.  Refrigerate for 5 – 10 minutes to set.

Dip bottoms of biscotti into melted chocolate.

Dip bottoms of biscotti into melted chocolate.

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SOURCE:    Bake at 350

Pear and Hazelnut Muffins

Pear and Hazelnut Muffins

Pear and Hazelnut Muffins

In just one week’s time I came across three references to a new cookbook called Whole Grain Morning, by Megan Gordon.  So I had to find out what all the fuss was about.  I went to my local big box bookstore and there it was!.  Thumbing through it, I found so many interesting recipes for breakfast dishes, all including a variety of grains, that I had to make it mine. It is a well-known fact that your morning meal is the opportune time to load in most of your whole grain needs for the day. Gordon gives many delicious ideas in her book for doing just that.  This recipe for pear and hazelnut muffins is only the first of what will most likely be many recipes that I make from this book.

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Muffins can be a fusion of many flavors and ingredients, some you wouldn’t think to put together, but somehow they work.  And sometimes a muffin will  be sweet and cake like resembling dessert.   I keep some funny little rules in my head to make the distinction whether a muffin should be breakfast food  or eaten at another time, like afternoon tea.  The rules that run through my head go something like this:

Whole grains and oats = breakfast

White flour = cake

An egg or two = breakfast

Lots of eggs = cake

Natural sweeteners = breakfast

White sugar = cake

Unsaturated fats = breakfast

Butter = cake

After running through the ingredient list I tally the marks and make a determination as to whether I can pull this off as breakfast.  When in doubt or the marks are equal, throw in some bacon, and that definitely swings it over to the side of breakfast.  😀

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The Pear and Hazelnut Muffins from Megan Gordon’s beautiful book came out strongly in the breakfast category with oats, whole wheat flour, fruit and nuts.  It might have remained there, except for the fact that I  added some chocolate.  It seemed to me that when you say the words, “pear and hazelnut”, together, something seems to be missing–add the words, “chocolate chunks”  and now it becomes a complete sentence.  Oh, oh, I guess I need to add chocolate to my list of ingredients acceptable for breakfast.  Try as I might, I can’t help tinkering with a recipe.  If you’re happy with the recipe sans the chocolate, go for it!!!

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Whether you have these for breakfast or dessert, you won’t have any regrets.  The combination of ingredients produces a complex flavor that’s far beyond what you would expect to be having for breakfast — grated pear, toasted hazelnuts, vanilla, butter, oats and, yes, chocolate chunks all tangled together in a crunchy muffin that tastes amazing even a day or two after it is baked.

PEAR AND HAZELNUT MUFFINS

Yield:  Theoretically, 12 muffins, but I got 18.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small-medium pears
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cooled slightlyIMG_6218
  • 2/3 cup natural cane sugar, such as Turbinado, or light brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (can replace this with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips (optional)

Directions:

1.  Heat oven to 425*F.  Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line it with papers.**  Have a second tin ready in case you need it,

2.  Peel, (if you desire, or can be skipped) pears, then halve and core them.  Grate pears on the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl.  You should have about a cup, grated. Note:  I got this much with just one medium pear.  Stir in the melted butter, sugar, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until combined.

3.  In a separate bowl, stir together the oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, spices, salt, all but 1/2 cup nuts, and chocolate chunks, if using.  Gently fold this dry mixture into the wet batter until just combined; do not overmix.

4.  Fill muffin cups almost full and sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup nuts. ( I overlooked this step, and added all the nuts to the batter, so my pics do not show any nuts on top of the muffins,)

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Place muffins in oven and immediately reduce the heat to 375*F.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out batter-free.

5.  Cool muffins in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.  Muffins will keep for 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

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**Point of information:  I just bought these parchment paper muffin liners for the first time, and they were wonderful at keeping the muffins from sticking to the paper. The liner removed cleanly with no torn muffins or crumbs clinging to the paper.  P.S. I get no compensation for this unsolicited plug.

Parchment Paper Muffin Liners

Parchment Paper Muffin Liners

SOURCE:  Whole Grain Mornings,  Megan Gordon

Cocoa Thumbprints

Cocoa Thumbprints

Cocoa Thumbprints

Today, because I don’t already have enough browned, crisp, sugary, buttery thoughts swirling around in my head, I’m going to talk about chocolate, thumbprints, white sugar, sprinkles and all sorts of other decorative garnishes.  So just let me get suited up in my mask, and super-woman cape and gallop into my kitchen with a sense of urgency.  Not so fast, time, I’m coming, I’m coming. Wait for meeee…….

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Something would be noticeably absent if I didn’t include a chocolate cookie in my gifts and platter of Christmas cookies.  I have too many such recipes to count, but if you’ll remember I’m trying to keep my cookie choices to ones that are simple to make, yet have great texture and outstanding flavor.  So this great recipe got my vote this year.  At this point, I’ve made them and we’ve eaten a few, and I can say for certain they get a “standing ovation”.  You can mix them up by hand, no electric mixer to get out, butter is melted so you don’t have to take it out in advance to soften, and once they come out of the oven they are finished and ready to eat.  If you’re in a hurry, these are perfect!

Thumbprints are easy to make and traditionally filled with jam, but these are much more fun.  Even though the cookies are all the same, they look different due to the variety of garnishes I used in the centers.  Try chocolate kisses, crushed candy canes or a dollop of frosting.  Colored sprinkles, mini marshmallows,  M&M’s, or dried fruit would work out nicely as well.  Let your imagine go wild, use what ever you have on hand.  They will be delicious no matter how you decorate them.

COCOA THUMBPRINTS

Yield:    Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

Dutch process cocoas makes a nice dark cookie.

Dutch process cocoa makes a nice dark cookie.

  • 1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • various decorative sprinkles, nuts, mini marshmallow, candies etc. for filling

Directions:

1.  Whisk the flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the melted butter and eggs and stir until combined.  Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.  If you’re really in a hurry I think you could shape these without chilling, but the cookies may spread more while baking.

2.  Preheat the oven to 325*F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.  Place the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining granulated sugar into 2 separate small bowls.  Roll scant tablespoonfuls of dough into balls;  roll in the granulated sugar and then in the confectioners’ sugar.

Roll first in regular sugar, then in powdered sugar.

Roll first in regular sugar, then in powdered sugar.

Place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Lightly flatten each ball with your fingers and make a deep 1/2-inch wide indentation in the centers with your thumb.  (TIP:  use a cork to make perfect indentations, taking care not to press all the way to the bottom of the cookie.)

3.  Place your choice of filling in the indentations.

Red and green glacée cherries fill these cookies.

Red and green glacée cherries fill these cookies.

4.  Bake cookies until puffed and slightly cracked, about 10 minutes.  Let cool 3 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Cocoa Thumbprints with various fillings.

Cocoa Thumbprints with various fillings.

SOURCE:   Food Network Magazine, Dec. 2011

Chocolate Plum Cake

Chocolate Plum Cake

Chocolate Plum Cake

The last day of summer has come and gone and we are now officially into the fall season.  However stone fruits are still widely available at the farm stands in my area and in the supermarkets.  All these fruits reach their peak of ripeness in the summer sun, and they are delicious and appealing when you cook with them.   They lend themselves to every kind of preparation:  poaching, sautéing, roasting, grilling, and baking.  So you can work them into your early fall dessert recipes.IMG_5126

In this recipe for Chocolate Plum Cake you can interchange the fruits, and perhaps use nectarines instead of plums.  I decided to make it with plums because I have always enjoyed chocolate with wine; port wine or other dessert wine goes best with chocolate.  Since purple plums have a sweet, wine-like flavor they pair beautifully with chocolate in this moist, single-layer cake.  Another stone fruit that would work well here is the pluot–a cross between apricots and plums.  They are now sold in many supermarkets in the summer.

I loved making the batter for this cake.  There is only 1/4 cup flour (whole wheat) in it.  The rest of the dry ingredients consist of  ground almond flour, with baking powder and a little salt.   This makes the texture of the cake very fine and a little crumbly.  Almond is not noticeable in the taste, instead you’re bombarded with dense chocolate.  The recipe calls for chocolate that is at least 64% cocoa, but I had a bar that was 70% cocoa, so I used that.  With baking, the plums become tender and retain their juiciness.  Oh, boy, this is good!

Tender and moist cake, juicy plums.

Tender and moist cake, juicy plums.

CHOCOLATE PLUM CAKE

Yield:    8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick softened butter, divided  (7 Tablespoons plus 1 Tablespoon.)

    Beautiful black plums and chocolate. Yum-yum!!

    Beautiful black plums and chocolate. Yum-yum!!

  • 4 black or purple plums
  • 1 Tablespoon, plus 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup almond meal**
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat or whole-wheat flour##
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3.5 ounces dark chocolate ( around 64% cocoa content), melted
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Garnish:  confectioners’ sugar

**  Almond meal – also called almond flour–is sold in the health-food aisle of many supermarkets.  The brand I used is by Bob’s Red Mill.  You can substitute other nut meals, or make your own by pulsing blanched almonds in a food processor until finely ground but not yet nut butter.

##  Substitute a gluten-free baking mix for the flour and this can be a gluten-free dessert.

1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Butter a 9 – inch round cake pan; then line the bottom with parchment paper and set aside.

2.  In a frying pan, melt 1 Tablespoon butter over medium heat.  Add the plums, cut side down, and sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar.  Cook 2 minutes and flip onto the other side.  Continue to cook 2 minutes more.  Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Sauté the plums in butter and sugar.

Sauté the plums in butter and sugar.

3.  In the bowl of your mixer beat the remaining 7 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup sugar until pale in color.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as you go.  Stir in the melted chocolate and then the heavy cream.

Mix melted chocolate into the batter.

Mix melted chocolate and cream into the batter.

4.  Add the dry ingredients, and stir until the batter is smooth.

Almond flour as oart of the dry ingredients.

Almond flour as part of the dry ingredients.

Pour into the prepared pan and arrange the sautéed plums on top, cut side up.

Pour into a round baking pan.

Pour into a round baking pan.

Top with plums

Arrange plums on top.

Drizzle any pan juices over the plums.

5.   Bake until the blade of a sharp knife inserted into the middle comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.  Let the cake cool 5 minutes before removing it from the pan,   Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

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Each wedge gets a half plum.

Each wedge gets a half plum.

SOURCE:   slightly modified from Yankee Magazine

Jamocha Silk Pie

Jamocha Silk Pie

Jamocha Silk Pie

This pie is so incredibly good it’s hard to know where to begin describing it.  There are many layers of flavor that all come together to produce a uniquely rich flavor profile and texture, and one slice is totally satisfying.

It is very easy to make, and only takes about 10 minutes to assemble.   It starts with a tofu base to which cocoa, coffee, melted chocolate, coconut flakes and almond milk are added  Then it all gets poured into a crumb crust. A short time in the freezer to firm up and you are ready to cut and enjoy this creation.

If you love chocolate you will love this pie!!

If you love chocolate you will love this pie!!

The pie’s texture comes from the addition of unsweetened coconut flakes to the other ingredients in the blender, but it does not get blended completely smooth.  Then chopped pecans get stirred in at the end.  So what you get is the smooth, dark richness of chocolate, a rough texture and flavor from coconut and a bit of chew from the pecans.  An interesting mix that somehow works.  All of us at my house devoured this pie at one sitting.  No one even guessed it contained tofu, and although I haven’t tried it,  I believe you could get the same great results using an equal amount of cream cheese in its place.

JAMOCHA SILK PIE

Yield:   8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 12.3 oz. silken tofu  (one package)

    Assemble all the ingredients.

    Assemble all the ingredients.

  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. almond milk (add a little more if your blender needs extra liquid to get going)
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brewed strong coffee
  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp. brewed coffee
  • 2 Tbsp. agave nectar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1 graham cracker or chocolate crumb crust
  • whipped topping, optional

To Make:

1.  In a blender container, combine tofu, cocoa powder, almond milk, vanilla, coffee, and flaked coconut.  That’s not a mistake, the coconut makes the texture awesome when it all gets blended in.  Blend until smooth.

2.  In a double boiler or microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and a tablespoon of brewed coffee.  Melt and stir until smooth.  Let cool down a bit and add to the blender mixture.  Then add agave nectar to desired sweetness and the pinch salt.  Taste and adjust to desired sweetness and consistency.  The pie is intended to be rich and bittersweet.

3.  Pour into a bowl, and manually stir in the pecans.   Pour into the crumb crust.

Pour the chocolate filling into a crumb crust.

Pour the chocolate filling into a crumb crust.

Cover and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up. Or place in refrigerator if serving at a later time.

Chilled pie ready to be cut and served.

Chilled pie ready to be cut and served.

4.  Once the pie has reached desired firmness, cut into 8 equal serving pieces and crown with whipped topping of choice.

Deeee--lish!

Deeee–lish!

This pie will keep well for a week when covered and stored in the fridge.

SOURCE:   VegKitchen with Nava Atlas