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Christmas Cookie Project II-Pecan Turtle Cookies

26 Dec

I dream of a White Christmas!!! What a lovely Christmas it has been. I have been praying for a White Christmas over the last few years. I finally got my wish yesterday. Tired eyes opening from a hectic week filled with chocolate making, cookie baking, I was pleasantly surprised by the seeing little white flakes gently floating down. Clothed in a flash, I hurriedly made my way to the living room window. There I felt my heart scream with joy. The entire street almost white, YIPPPEEEE!!!! My prayers were answered. Weeks and weeks of praying finally paid off. I know I may sound looney but nothing thrills me more than a beautiful peaceful white landscape with Christmas trees and ornaments glistening. When I was young, my happiest days where celebrating Christmas with family and gift exchanging. I remember skating on the ice in Central Park. It was fabulous as those holidays were filled with love and laughter. Not that these days weren’t. White Christmas were also frequent. Nowadays, family get togethers are less frequent and with individuals getting older and passing away, it became a quiet Christmas. Not that it was bad but I still remember those Christmas days when spent throwing snow balls at each other. Now can you see why I love White Christmas? Ha ha.

This Christmas has indeed been a special one, I got to share it with friends and family. My friends and I went to events like the Singing Christmas Tree. This year marked its 50th Anniversary which made it especially worthwhile to go.

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A few friends and I also went to see Star Wars-“The Last Jedi.” To culminate it was the Christmas Party in which I made some chocolates and cookies to share.

Speaking of cookies, I made some Pecan Turtles.

Voila!!!

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Cookie Recipe:

1/2 cup toasted pecans (plus more for rolling in)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter (softened)
1 large egg

Caramel Recipe:

Sugar
Whipping Cream
Butter

Results: These are a fantastic addition to any cookie exchange. Buttery and crispy and gooey. A keeper.

~Happy Holidays~

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Christmas Cookie Project-Chocolate, Cinnamon and Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

16 Dec

Christmas Season is in full swing. It all started with the Christmas Cookie Exchange organized by the Ladies Team Members at our church. Cookie making is always fun for me as it is the simplest way to enjoy a dessert. Sad to say I do not have the luxury to make them too often. When the idea of participating in a cookie exchange occurred, I literally jumped at it. The event was hosted by the church and 14 friends participated, cookies as well ha ha. We all had a great time socializing with each other. Sipping on tea, munching on cookies, playing games and sharing stories of Christ. The highlight of course was the exchange. I had brought 3 dozen cookies there to share and trade and came back satisfied with 2 dozen cookies.

For this cookie exchange I made chocolate cinnamon and hazelnut thumbprint cookies. They were fun to make and I enthusiastically shared them with everyone.

I first made the dough and then rolled it in sanding sugar and 1tsp. cinnamon.

Once the cookies were baked, a melon baller was used to create the indent on the cookies.

Ganache was filled in the indented cookies.  Ganache was made of chocolate and cream.

Hazelnut Cinnamon Chocolate Thumbprint Cookie Recipe (found Here)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of hazelnuts ( I toasted and ground them finely)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon divided
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter (I used 1 cup butter)
1 large egg
1/2 cup sanding sugar
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
*** Instead of combining the chocolate with 1/4 cup butter. I opted to make a ganache instead using chocolate and cream.

Result:  This cookie was excellent.  It had the right balance of sweetness and bitterness from the cocoa.  The ground hazelnuts and cinnamon added complexity to the taste while the sanding sugar added a texture to the cookie.  It is a keeper and I would gladly be making this cookie again.  As a side suggestion, perhaps substitute the ganache with either caramel or caramel chocolate ganache.  Happy Holidays and Cookie Baking!!!!

Christmas Cookie Project: Linzer Cookies

23 Dec

With 2 more days till Christmas, I decided to switch gears and make some cookies.  There are lots of cookies outside and I wanted to make some traditional cookies for Christmas.  This time I decided to make some Linzer cookies.

To make the linzer cookies, I first toasted up some hazelnuts and grounded them.  I then creamed the butter and sugar.  Once the butter/sugar mixture was nice fluffy and incorporated, the eggs and vanilla were added.  Continue mixing and add the salt.  Next came the dry ingredients.  Add the cake flour, cinnamon, bread crumbs, baking powder and hazelnuts.   Mix and form ball with the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Roll out the dough and cut with cookie cutters.

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Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes.  Spoon jam onto the cookies without the holes and coat with icing sugar on the cookies with holes.

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Linzer Cookie Ingredients  (Culinary Institute of America)

3 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

pinch salt

2 eggs

3 cups cake flour

2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 cups bread crumbs

2 1/2 cups hazelnuts

Confectioner’s sugar for coating

Raspberry jam for filling

Result:  These cookies were light and crispy.  Delicious and beautiful.  Perfect for gift giving.

Happy Holidays!!!

Chinese Walnut Cookies

2 Jul

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Chinese Walnut Crackers
2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
7 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten and divided in half
3/4 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts, plus 12 raw walnut halves

Home made-Bouchon Better Nutters

23 Jan

Boo hoo….I think I just threw my New Years Resolution out the window!!!!! My stomach is going to laugh at me again. You and your resolutions as it says.

Big surprise….Baking again. It has been a couple of weeks in which I did not bake and write on this blog and as a result I am craving some baked goods again. Don’t know why but recently I have been craving cookies again especially after work. I have been going to some local bakeries for some cookies to satisfy my cravings. While standing and pondering over the bakery counter and admiring the goodies, salivating no doubt, the peanut butter cookie stood out at me. Really…. I am Pavlov’s puppy. Better yet I must be related to Homer Simpson except I grow weak at the knees for cookies instead of doughnuts.
MMMMM…peanut butter goodness. Crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside. I would have gone back for more but that was when I recalled the Bouchon Book had a recipe for the Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie called the Better Nutters. Made it I did.

Prior to making the cookie, I studied the recipe first. Unlike most peanut butter cookies, Thomas Keller uses oats in his cookies. He also uses vanila paste in the dough as well. I think he is trying to achieve crunchiness.

To make the cookie, fist measure the dry ingredients such as flour, baking power and soda and combine them into a bowl. Oatmeal and peanuts were next measured. Once the dry ingredients were measured, combine the peanut butter and butter and beat until creamy and light. Add the brown sugar once the peanut butter mixture is fluffy. Next add the egg and vanilla paste to the peanut butter mixture. Mix until every ingredient is well blended. Add the dry ingredients next. Alternate with flour, oatmeal and peanuts into the mixture. The dough will be soft once all the ingredients are added. To harden the dough, Keller mentioned to place the dough into the fridge for about an hour to harden. Once the dough is hardened, bring out the dough and roll out. Use a circular cookie cutter and cut out the cookies. Bake them at 325F for 12-15 minutes.

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In this version, I used a simplified peanut butter butter cream. Creaming together peanut butter, icing sugar and butter, I piped the icing onto the cookies and assembled them.

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Better Nutters

peanut halves 30 grams
all purpose flour 198 grams
Baking Soda 9.1 grams-1 3/4 teasp. + 1/8 teasp.
Baking Powder 3.8 grams
Unsalted Butter 210 grams
Creamy Peanut Butter 86 grams
Light Brown Sugar 106 grams
Eggs 54 grams- 1 large egg
Vanilla Paste 8.5 grams ( I used vanilla extract)
Oatmeal 106 grams

Result: This recipe is a keeper as it really as crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside. As an alternative and spice things up next time, I will add jam to the cookies.

Happy Baking!!!!

Christmas!!!

25 Dec

Christmas is finally here. Vancouver is beautiful with the snow capped mountains. I am typing this while I munch on dimsum. Been baking up a storm in anticipation of the holidays this year. I made chocolates and cookies for gifts and finally hosted my first chrismtas cookie exchange. A memorable Christmas to remember with all the work involved.

First off, I made some roasted pistachio truffles

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Pistachio Truffles
Pistachios
Cream
White Chocolate
Butter

Coconut Truffles
Toasted Coconut
White Chocolate
Cream
Butter

To make truffles, first chop the chocolate into pieces. Next boil the cream and when the cream has boiled pour into the chocolate. Stir until the cream and chocolate become mixed together and develops a sheen. Add the butter and cool to set. Once set use a spoon or mellon baller to scoop out ball sized ganache. Dip into melted chocolate and set. Once set dip the chocolates again and into the toasted pistachio or coconut.

Next I made some Chocolate Kisses or Baci di cioccolato. To make these cookies, hazelnuts were toasted and ground finley. The dry ingredients were next measured and set aside. I then creamed the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Once fluffy, the rum and vanilla was added in and mixed. Finally the dry ingredients, such as flour, salt, baking powder, cocoa, nuts were added in. At first the cookie batter seemed dry but once some kneeding and squeezing the ball of dough came together. Using a spoon, spoon out the dough and roll into spheres. Roll into granulated sugar. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.

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Chocolate Kisses (Baci Di Cioccolato)

1/2 cup whole blanced almonds ( I used hazelnuts)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar plus more for rolling
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teasp. baking powder
1/2 teasp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter softened
1 cup icing sugar
2 teasp. vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum

The truffles and cookies came out well. The Chocolate kisses had a subtle hazelnut flavour to them and is a keeper. I definitely chose the right cookies to give as gifts.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Pistachio Sables

26 Oct

Cookies again. Nothing warms the heart like freshly baked cookies and the aromas when done mmmmmmm…….
This time I decided to make sables. I first fell in love with the cookie after tasting it at Thomas Haas Pastry but learned to make it on my own. The cookie is quite light and crispy in comparison to the other cookies nonetheless it contains the same key ingredients as found in most cookies. Flour, separated egg, salt, butter, nuts, icing sugar and baking powder were the key ingredients.

To make the cookie, instead of creaming the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy, I decided to experiment with the method of pate sucre or biscuit dough where you combine the butter and flour and for lack of a better word sand between the hands until finley ground. Next came the icing sugar and continue to mix until I resembles loose sand. Add the baking power and vanilla to the mixture as the next step. The mixture will look like powder, nice and dry. Finally add in the yolk as a binding ingredient. The dough will be crumbly but mix well into a ball.

One could then roll the ball into a log to slice into rounds but I found it too dry. More importantly you could not acheive perfectly round cookies seen at pastry shops. I referred to Sadaharu Aoki’s tip. Unlike slicing the dough like ice box cookies, he rolled out the dough and used a round cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. Perfection, now I have round cookies!!!! Yippee 🙂 As a finishing touch, I brushed the white on top.

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Bake at 325F for 15-20 minutes.

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Pistachio Sables adapted from here

3/4 cup Pistachio (3 oz), toasted and cooled
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, separated
Special equipment: a 2-inch round cookie cutter

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Happy Cookie Baking.

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