“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” -Edith Sitwell
I hope you all enjoyed a lovely and wonderful in every way kind of Christmas, if you celebrated. We had our usual family of 4 cozy, casual Christmas, which we love. The cookies and treats are behind us (literally and figuratively-lol) and it's time to get back to sensible eating and looking ahead to the new year. It has been really quite cold here in Northern Colorado lately. Our night-time temps are single digits and the day- time highs have only been in the 20's for a week now. This kind of weather makes me want one thing and one thing only, something soupy and piping hot. So I made a double batch of White Chicken Chili to eat now and to freeze for later. This recipe is in my most recent e-cookbook, 10 best Poultry Recipes. If you are looking for a bowl of something warm and comforting, look no further!
White Chicken Chili
1 3/4 cups diced onion
1 large bell pepper (red and/or green), stemmed, seeded and diced
1 Tablespoon, minced jalapeno, seeded and stemmed
2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup roasted green chiles, diced*
1 rotisserie chicken, juice and meat(skinned)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, approximately
1 c. crushed tomatillos or salsa verde**
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
4 1/2 cups canned great northern beans, with liquid
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper
1. In a large stockpot or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of coconut or olive oil over medium heat.. When oil is hot, but not smoking, stir in onions, garlic, bell peppers and jalapenos pepper. Cook, stirring often, until veggies are wilted. Add in a pinch of kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper, cumin and oregano. Continue to cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
2. Into pot add beans with their liquid, roasted green chiles and tomatillos or salsa verde.
3. Into a glass measuring cup with spout, pour the juice from the rotisserie chicken (adds great flavor-but optional). Pour in enough chicken broth to measure 1 1/2 cups. Add to pot.
4. Stir in chopped parsley and cilantro. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in more broth as needed (it should be thick, but not dry).
5. In the meantime, remove the meat from the rotisserie chicken (I use the breasts and thighs only, reserving drumsticks for a snack). Remove the skin and coarsely chop the meat.
6. Right before serving, stir in chicken meat and cook just until heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of freshly chopped cilantro. Dig in!
* I buy and freeze roasted chiles from the farmer's market or roast my own and store them in the freezer, already stemmed and seeded. You can choose the desired heat you prefer by the choice of chiles you make. Canned fire-roasted chiles are a fine substitute. IF roasting my own for this dish I usually choose Anaheims for a milder spice.
** Canned , crushed tomatillos may be difficult to find in some areas. You can peel, blanch and puree your own fresh tomatillos or you can use purchased Salas Verde in place of tomatillos here.
This recipe is also great in a crock pot, cooked on low for 8 hours. Saute onions, garlic and peppers before adding them, along with all the other ingredients EXCEPT the chicken, into the crock pot. Stir in the diced chicken about 15 minutes before serving to allow it to heat through.
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"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap." -Barbara Jordan
Christmas eve is tomorrow. Chances are, like me, you are already done baking. Time to get the house cleaned up and ready for family and friends for however your Christmas celebration goes. I promised you one cookie, 3 ways, and then the days got away from me. I was scrambling to get my own baking done, last minute stocking stuffers acquired, grocery shopping completed (4 stores later) and making time for exercise to keep my sanity in check. Perhaps some of you know exactly what I mean. Then woosh, the days are gone! So my best laid plans didn't exactly go as planned. I am still fairly new to blogging and discovering rather quickly that it really takes time to get a blog post prepared and posted. So hats off to all the veteran bloggers out there who put out tons and tons of quality content like clock work. You are my role models! Anyways, onto part 3 of one cookie 3 ways. Maybe you won't get to try it this year, but put it on your "to try next year" list for sure. They are the best part of a fudgy chocolate cookie crossed with a peppermint patty in my book. If you love peppermint and chocolate together, you will really love these!
Mint Patty Cookies
1 recipe Chewy Coca Crinkles (here)
Mint buttercream (see below)
4 ounces fine quality semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut oil
crushed peppermint candy canes
1. Make recipe for Chewy Cocoa Crinkles as directed in original post. After forming dough into mounds with cookie scoop, coat both the bottom and top in granulated sugar. Bake as directed and allow cookies to cool completely.
2. In the meantime , make the mint buttercream. Since you may be splitting one batch into different variations, here is the ratio you will need. Make as little or as much as you think you will need. For every 1 cup of powdered sugar you will need 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon of pure peppermint extract (or to taste) and approximately 1-2 Tablespoons of milk. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a mixer, and starting on low speed, mix all ingredients to combine. Once powdered sugar is absorbed, increase speed to high and mix until light and fluffy. You want the buttercream to be spreadable, but not too stiff nor too soft that it may run.Taste the buttercream for the peppermint flavor and add little by little, if more is needed, until it suits your taste.
3. On the top side of each cookie, spread about 1 tablespoon or so of mint buttercream into a flat disc as shown below. Repeat with as many cookies as desired.
4. Place cookies in freezer to firm up.
5. Meanwhile gently melt chocolate with coconut oil in a double boiler or in microwave. Stir until completely smooth. Have crushed peppermint candy canes nearby.
6. Holding cookie carefully by the edges, dip buttercream side down into melted chocolate. Gently shake off excess and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle top of cookie minimally with crushed peppermint candies. Repeat with remaining cookies. Allow chocolate to set up completely.
7. Store cookies in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature for serving.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas with joy and sweetness all around.♥
“My stomach rumbles. Plates of cookies, cake, and fudge. Christmastime is here.” -Richelle E. Goodrich
Yesterday I introduced a wonderful cookie that have legions of fans in my prior customer base and in ,my family. Yesterday was part 1, straight up.. If you only ever make that version, you will not be disappointed. I am sure it will become part of your cookie rotation from now on. However, if you'd like to take it a step further and maybe gussy it up just a bit for a more indulgent treat, then consider this variation: Almond-Nutella Sandwich Cookies. For the base recipe go here, to yesterday's post:
Follow the recipe in the link all the way to the point where you dip the bottom of the cookie in granulated sugar. Here's where we start creating a different cookie.
Almond-Nutella Sandwich Cookies
Sliced, blanched almonds, lightly toasted and coarsely crumbled
1. After dipping the bottom of the scooped dough in granulated sugar, roll the rounded part (top) of the dough ball in the crumbled almonds. Place onto prepared baking sheet, 2" apart. Pat dough balls down slightly, as in the original recipe..
2. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes in preheated 350 degree F oven, until done (see original recipe for tips on checking for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely.
3. In a small bowl , combine equal amounts of almond butter and Nutella and mix well.
4.Flip half of the cookies over so flat side of cookie is facing up.
5. With a small off-set spatula, spread a small amount of the Nutella-almond butter mixture evenly over the flat side of one cookie. Place another cookie, almond side up on top of the filling.
6. Repeat with the remaining cookies.! Wait till you taste them... and they taste as good as they look!
Note: I don't give amounts for the ingredients above since you will have the option of making all three cookies from one dough. So know if you have extra almonds, you can use them in a salad later on or to top steamed green beans, and you can make up the nutella mixture as you go since it is just a 1:1 ratio. Have fun!
"I am still convinced that a good, simple, homemade cookie is preferable to all the store-bought cookies one can find." James Beard
James Beard had this one right. There is nothing better than homemade cookies. And in this, the season of cookie over-load, is the best time to hit that sentiment home. I hope you will take some time this busy season and make a cookie (or two or three) from scratch. I have shared a couple easy holiday cookie ideas with you already here and here. I also provided links to find some of my favorite cookie recipes on the net here . Today, however, I will share another family favorite that I have played with over the years. It is a soft, chewy , delicious chocolate cookie that you can take and transform into three different cookies. One dough, 3 cookies..... "that's a good thing," to quote Martha (yes, that Martha). You may want to double the recipe so you have more than enough to try all three variations. Get out your mixer. preheat you oven, and let's tackle the basic dough and 1st variation. (I apologize in advance for not including more photos, just got so wrapped up in making them, I completely forgot to take photos along the way)!
Chewy Cocoa Crinkles
10 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour*
2 Tablespoons fine quality cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder **
1/8 teaspoon instant esporesso powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cups granulated sugar, plus extra for dipping
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Colored sprinkles or non-pareils of your choice
* as with other recipes I have had good success using Bob Reds Mill 1 to 1 baking flour in place of all-purpose if you want Gluten Free cookies
** if you live at 5,000 feet altitude like I do, reduce the baking powder to 3/4 teaspoon.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In microwave-safe bowl or in a bowl over a bain marie (double boiler) place chopped chocolate. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat (or microwave) and set aside.
3. Sift together, flour baking powder, espresso powder and salt. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer place butter and sugars. Beat on medium-low speed to combine. for several minutes, scraping down the side of the bowl, as needed.
5. Reduce the mixer to low and add in the eggs and vanilla. Increase speed to medium-low and continue to mix until well combined.
6. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add in cooled chocolate. Combine well.
7. Stir in flour mixture in 2 or 3 additions until just combined. DO NOT over-mix.
8. Remove bowl from mixer and cover with plastic wrap. Chill dough for about 30 minutes to firm up slightly. If the dough is already more thick than runny, you can skip this step. You can tell if it's ready if you form a ball and it retains its shape.
9. Scoop out rounds of dough using an ice cream scoop. I favor the Piazza number 40, but a similar scoop about 1 3/4 inches in diameter will work fine.
10. Dip the flat bottom of the dough into granulated sugar. Dip the mound part in sprinkles of your choice. I used holiday colored non-pareils. I alter the colors based on the holiday, occasion or time of year. Place sprinkle side up on prepared baking sheet, about 2 " apart. Pat down on the dough ball slightly (if dough was refrigerated for a long time,. you may have to pat down by half. Experiment with one or two before baking a whole sheet.
11. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes or until done. DO NOT over-bake. Cookies will puff up slightly and then flatten out and crinkle if you rap baking tray on counter. Center should not look raw anywhere. This may takes some trial and error as chocolate cookies can be a little tricky. But I find by 10 minutes tops, if your oven is accurate, they should be done. Once they cool they will be firm but soft in the center.
12. Remove tray from oven and let cool completely. They store great in the freezer, if they last that long.
"Nothing says home like the smell of baking."-unknown
Can you believe it is only just over a week until Christmas? Here in Northern Colorado we were gifted with a snow day today! What a great excuse to stay inside and get going on my holiday baking. I'm a little behind! I didn't want to go out and drive anywhere, so after checking my pantry, decided my Brown Sugar Blondies would be the recipe du jour, dolled up for the big day with Holiday M&M's. It's funny because M&M's are really the only candy leftover from my childhood that I still enjoy. I love baking them into cookies and blondies when I am not eating them straight out of the bag.... for breakfast (ok I don't do that anymore, but when I was younger....). I digress. Back to the Blondies at hand.
Blondies sometimes get a bad rap, as if they are the evil cousin of chocolate brownies, or when they are a lazy attempt at passing off chocolate chip cookies in bar format. That thinking stops here and now! These luscious moist bars of buttery brown sugar brownies can stand atop a lofty cake pedestal all on their own merits. When they bake and the top gets all golden brown and the crisp edges are calling out to you "eat me, eat me," you will know exactly what I mean. You will not be able to resist that aroma of baked sugary, buttery goodness that lingers in your kitchen even after you have pulled them from the oven and put them in the garage (wait, you don't do that?!!) to cool. Anyone with a working nose and a sweet tooth in your house will be called to discover what that smell is and beg you for a bite, I promise! So what are you waiting for? Oh, and the Christmas crack thing? It's really hard to eat just one. Don't say I didn't warn you! : )
Disclaimer: the pictures show a double batch because I made a big half sheet of them today for gift-giving ....and eating.
Brown Sugar Holiday M&M Blondies
2 1/2 cups plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all -purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda, scant *
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
9 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature (1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup plus 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups Holiday M&M Milk Choc0late Candies
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13x2" baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. Spray with non-stick baking spray or grease with butter. Set aside.
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium until light and fluffy (I think that looks good already)!.
4. Scrape down sides of bowl. On low speed, add in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Return mixer to medium speed and mix until well combined.
5. Reduce speed to low and gradually add in flour. Mix until combined, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
6. Reserve 1/4 cup of M&M candies. Combine remaining M&M's and chocolate chips and slowly add to mixer (on low speed) just until incorporated.
7. Remove bowl from mixer and scrape batter into prepared pan. With an off-set spatula, spread the dough out in the pan, BUT, and this is kind of important, bevel the edges down at a roughly 45 degree angle all around the pan. DO NOT spread the batter out evenly across the pan, as this will cause the edges to rise up and cook faster than the center and then leave a huge edge and a sunken middle. This technique helps mitigate that result.
8. Now with the same spatula, smooth out the middle area so it is even, as shown above.
9. Sprinkle reserved M&M candies over the top of the Blondies
10. Bake the Blondies for 30-4o minutes until top is very golden brown, edges are caramelized and top of blondie, when pressed gently with the palm of your hand, feels firm and not wobbly. Do not over bake.
11. Remove from oven and let cool completely (ok, eat a piece of the edge first, if you must). I like to refrigerate them before cutting them. The foil will allow you to remove the chilled blondie easily from the pan, flip it over and carefully remove foil (may need to support it with a cutting board), flip it back over and cut into desired size. I prefer to store mine in the refrigerator, but it's not necessary.
* If you live at 5,000 feet altitude like I do, reduce the baking soda to 3/4 (scant) teaspoon. Proceed with recipe as directed.
I'd love to hear what you think about this recipe if you try it! They freeze beautifully as well, so perfect for lunch box treats anytime of the year! : )
"Somehow not only at Christmas but all the long year through, the joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you."- John Greenleaf Whittier
I can tell you , if you start by making and sharing this Christmas Crack, otherwise known as Chocolate- Covered Almond Toffee, you will have giving joy to others well under way. This is a very easy confection to make for gift giving. Sometimes candy making can be problematic and depends on having a candy thermometer for cooking a syrup just so. Not this recipe, it is easy peasy and you probably have most of the ingredients already on hand. In our family this doesn't last very long (thus the moniker Christmas Crack because it is so addicting) so I usually need to make several batches. If you have a 3 qt. saucepan, you can easily double the recipe. Otherwise be prepared to make one batch at a time. You are going to want to add this recipe to your repertoire for making every year, I'm sure of it!
1 cup (2 sticks) COLD unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces semi- or bitter-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry roasted, lightly salted almonds, coarsely chopped
1. Line a half sheet pan with 1 " sides with parchment paper; set aside.
2. In a 2 qt. heavy-bottomed sauce pan, place butter, sugar, salt and vanilla.
3. Over medium high heat, cook butter mixture, whisking constantly, until butter is melted and mixture is smooth.
4. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until mixture is almond brown in color. The mixture will go through various stages, even looking at one point curdled and broken. Keep whisking, it will soon come together and smooth back out again and is develops the rich deep color you are after. See photos:
Just coming to a boil then starting to get foamy and thick.
Here it is broken, Keep whisking until it smooths out and takes on the rich color as in the picture above right.
5. Once mixture is smooth and the proper color is reached, immediately pour toffee mixture onto parchment-lined backing sheet. BE CAREFUL-mixture is crazy hot- pan will absorb heat and become very hot too. Use caution and oven mitts!
6. As mixture sets and cools for a minute or two, take a metal fork and draw lines all over the surface of the toffee. I do this to help the chocolate adhere better, giving it grooves to sink down into.
7. Let toffee set 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate over top of toffee and let sit for a minute or two.
8. With an off-set spatula, spread chocolate evenly over top of toffee.
9. Sprinkle almonds evenly over chocolate and place in freezer (or if its wintery where you are, on the front porch or in the garage will do) for 5 minutes or so until chocolate has set. Remember pan may still be hot, so use care!
10. Once toffee has completely cooled, break into chunks. Store in a cool dry place until ready to eat or give as a gift.
I can't resist it. Can you?
“... food is not simply organic fuel to keep body and soul together, it is a perishable art that must be savoured at the peak of perfection.” -E.A Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly
I cook really fresh, mostly very simple food as a matter of habit. It is my very favorite way to cook and eat -simple and fresh all the way. However, every once in a while I like the meal to have a little wow factor, to elicit that feeling that we are maybe out at a nice restaurant instead of sitting around our kitchen table. So if you want to play Top Chef and really impress your family or friends, here is a simple, yet incredibly delicious pork recipe which will leave everyone feeling spoiled and licking their plates. It does require very minimal night before prep for best results, so plan accordingly. A simple pan sauce is whipped up at the last minute which takes this dish over the top. It is the perfect celebration meal for this festive time of year.Let's get cooking!
Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Thyme and Cran-Apple Pan Sauce
4-6 Boneless Center Cut Pork Loin chops, 1-1 1/4" thick
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Coarse ground black pepper
4-5 sprigs, fresh thyme, leaves removed, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup fresh apple cider or apple juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup diced Granny Smith apple, peeled and cored
1. The night before, pat the pork chops dry. Mix kosher salt and brown sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chops liberally with the salt/ sugar mixture. Pat it in place. Discard any remaining salt/sugar mixture. Place pork chops on a rack over a sheet pan and refrigerate, uncovered for 24 hours.
2. Remove pork from fridge and set out for 20 minutes before cooking. In the meantime preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and gather the rest of the ingredients.
3. with a paper towel pat dry any spots of moisture from chops. Sprinkle coarse ground black pepper over both sides of chops. Sprinkle thyme leaves over both sides of chops, pressing to adhere.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of avocado or coconut oil in a large, heavy duty, oven-proof skillet just over medium-high heat. When oil/butter mixture is sizzling and bubbly add chops. Cook until bottom side is nicely golden. Flip.
5. Cook chops one more minute on stove-top. Transfer skillet to hot oven and allow to cook another 7-10 minutes or until internal temperature reads 140 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.
6. Carfeully remove hot pan from oven, place a towel or oven mitt over the handle to remind you it's hot! Transfer chops to a platter and tent with foil while you prepare the sauce.
8. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of fat from skillet and place over medium heat. Saute shallots in pan until wilted, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
9. Increase heat to medium high and add in apple cider vinegar, broth and apple cider/juice . Cook , stirring to scrape up all the yummy brown bits stuck to the bottom of pan, until mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook 2 -3 minutes until liquid is somewhat reduced.
10. Stir in cranberry sauce, Dijon mustard and apple bits and continue cooking until sauce is thickened and somewhat syrupy, stirring occasionally.
11. Immediately pour pan sauce over chops on platter and garnish with a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves. (I used parsley here because I didn't have any beautiful thyme sprigs left. There is no right way to garnish it, but the thyme leaves to speak to what's in the dish) Serve with buttered noodles or garlic mashed potatoes and steamed green beans. Serves 4-6
12. Sit back and listen to your diners swoon with delight. ♥ Happy Holidays!
"Today I will live in the moment, unless it's unpleasant, in which case I will eat a cookie."- Cookie Monster
It's National Cookie Day, and I have nothing to offer you. I am completely unprepared. My previous two posts are about cookies, so you can go here or here . I promise I will be posting more cookies in the very near future.
A day just to celebrate cookies seems like a good idea to me. In spite of my fancy pastry chef training learning how to make mousses, creams, tortes, tarts and gateaux, the simple and humble cookie has always been the sweet that captures my heart the most. A small cookie is portable, no utensils are needed to consume it and the mere sight of a cookie makes even the most jaded among us smile in delight. I think most of us harbor a child-like love for cookies because it is the one treat that reminds us so much of home and childhood. Everyone I know has that one special favorite cookie, their version of Proust's madeleine. One bite and it's as if a time machine has swept us away to another place and time.
So since I don't have a recipe ready to share with you today, I will offer you some links to places to find excellent cookie options and some of my favorites from other people as well. Martha Stewart Living magazine is celebrating 25 years in publication. Wow! She has shared some great cookies over the years. This month they are sharing 25 of their favorite recipes here. I can personally vouch for the rugelach, the chewy chocolate gingerbread and the peppermint meringues. Take a look and see which ones catch your eye.
You can't go wrong with a recipe from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa. Every recipe I have ever tried of hers has been wonderful. Her recipes are completely reliable and delicious every time. Of her cookies I can recommend the Pecan Shortbread, Chocolate White Chocolate chunk Cookies and her Ultimate Ginger Cookie. If you are a food Network fan, you can sign up for their 12 days of Cookie newsletter to get even more tasty options delivered right to your in-box here.
This is my favorite sugar cookie recipe. I have been using this one for as long as I can remember. They come out great. The creator of this recipe, cookbook legend Nancy Baggett, also has a recipe for a wonderful melt-in your mouth glazed lemon cookie.
This Pecan Caramel Surprise Cookie from Rachel Ray is crazy good. You must try it!
Lastly this Chocolate Truffle Cookie originally published in the now defunct Gourmet Magazine is a chocoholics dream come true bite. Make extra! At Christmas time I love to decorate the tops of these cookies with Royal icing wreaths to add a festive touch and a pop of color to my cookie tray.
Well I hope that gets you started. Share your favorite cookie recipes as well! One can never have too many great cookie recipes!
"Christmas cookies and happy hearts, this is how the holidays start." -Anonymous
So I was thinking about the cookies we really love to make and give this time of year. I wanted to mostly offer you the ones for the biggest bang for the buck. This Oatmeal Lace cookies is one of those. You can make them now and they will still be amazing come Christmas time. As long as you keep them in in airtight container in a cool, dry place, they will last and last. Humidity will be the nemesis of this cookie for long-term storage.
This is one of my daughter's favorite cookies. It has lovely caramel overtones from the brown sugar and a wonderful crisp yet light bite. The lightly toasted nuts add extra crunch and texture. I love them sandwiched with melted chocolate, my daughter prefers them without the chocolate (what does she know?!!). The chocolate serves two purposes, so I highly recommend that step. The first is well, chocolate-duh! The second is it strengthens the cookie structure. On their own these are very fragile cookies. Sandwich them with chocolate and it's a game changer. They hold together much better and the taste is divine!
Oatmeal Lace Cookies
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
8 tablespoons ( 1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 pinches (scant 1/8 teaspoon) kosher salt
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, lightly toasted (Or your favorite nut-pistachio, walnuts, almonds...)
2/3 cup dried fruit (apricots, cranberries, cherries, chopped)- optional
Approx 6 ounces good quality semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped and melted -optional
1. Line several baking sheets with a Silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Whisk together flour and oats in a bowl; set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until smooth and bubbling, about 4 minutes.
4. Remove mixture from heat. Stir in flour and oats and dried fruit, if desired.
5. Transfer mixture to a bowl or covered container and refrigerate for 1 hour.
6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
7. Roll teaspoons ( as in measuring spoon size) of dough into small balls. Place 3 inches apart on lined cookie sheets. Pat down slightly. Cookies will spread a lot when baking.
8. Bake on center rack for 8-10 minutes until bubbly and caramel colored. Remove from oven and with a small off-set spatula, gently and quickly shape the cookies into as round a shape as possible (optional but makes them pair up better and look more pleasing). Let cool completely. Continue until all dough is baked. Here are some without fruit and one with.
9. Once cookies are cooled, coat the underside of one cookie with a small amount of melted chocolate using a small off-set spatula. Sandwich together with another cookie, flat side towards chocolate, of approximately the same size and shape. Continue until you have used up all the cookies. Fortify yourself by eating any broken ones as you go. ; ) Set aside in a cool dry space to allow chocolate to set (again the cold garage is an excellent choice or just a couple minutes in the freezer).
10. Store cookies in an air-tight container, layering between pieces of parchment, in a cool dry place.
Gluten free Variation: Substitute Gluten Free rolled oats for regular oats and your favorite cup for cup gluten free flour for the all-purpose flour. I have had good results with Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 flour (blue label)
"I should really work off that Thanksgiving meal. Oh, look-Christmas cookies!"- Anonymous
Oh, yes, it is that time of year, isn't it?! The sweet season of cookies and treats is upon us. As a former pastry professional, baking and giving cookies is in my DNA, I think. Each year I say I am going to cut back, and each year I don't. Why start now?! lol!
I thought now that I have the blog, I will try to share and document a few of my favorites or maybe something even brand new, such as these Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint Meringues. I was rummaging through my cupboards and spotted these meringues and had an aha moment! Meringue cookies are available at almost any market. I know for sure Whole Foods and Trader Joe's sell them, but I have also seen them in the bakery section of my local super market. Meringues are gluten free and fat free, so not even the worse choice if you are going the sweet route. They are quick, require no special skill or equipment, start from store bought (afterall, sugar and egg whites are pretty much sugar and egg whites no matter what), turn out gorgeous and taste great to boot! If you have a cookie exchange to attend and aren't the baking type- look no further. This is your recipe. If you want a lovely hostess gift, this fits the bill. This is also a great "recipe" for a middle school aged child or older to do all by him or herself to gift to teachers and friends! Ready to get started?
Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint Meringues
1 tub store bought Meringue "Cookies"
4 ounces ( approximately) good quality semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate (not chips), finely chopped
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment and place in freezer for at least 15 minutes. This will just help the chocolate set up faster later.
2. Meanwhile, gently melt chocolate in a microwave or over a double boiler. Stir until smooth; set aside.
3. Place candy canes in a ziploc bag. Squeeze air out and seal. With a mallet or rolling pin, pound candy canes until finely chopped. You will need approx, 1/2-cup. Pour candy canes pieces onto a rimmed plate. Set aside.
4. Open tub of meringue cookies -that's the hard part! ; ).
5. Remove parchment-lined sheet pan from freezer.
6. Working one at a time, dip a meringue about 1/8" into melted chocolate, shaking off excess and gently scraping bottom of meringue across bowl so chocolate won't puddle when set down.
7. Immediately roll sides of meringue into crushed candy cane bits. Place bottom side down on prepared baking sheet. Continue until all meringues are dipped and coated.
8. Place the meringues in a cool, dry place to set up chocolate. The cold garage would be good this time of year or the freezer briefly. Avoid storing them for any length of time near moisture as that will make them soften. You don't want that. Cool dry place is best.
Variation: Instead of crushed peppermint, roll the cookies in chopped nuts (pistachios would be festive) or sprinkles! Just as pretty, see?
Now wrap them up and they are ready for gifting! Who wouldn't love that?!
Let me know what you think!