Tag Archives: cookies

Pantry/Freezer Clearout – Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

It’s always fun when you have all the ingredients for something that catches your eye.

I saw these delicious looking biscuits on one of the FB food groups I belong to. When I checked out the link I found that the recipe used whole wheat flour and fine porridge oats and not all purpose flour. I happened to have some leftover finely ground rolled oats, from a previous sourdough bread bake, in my pantry, so it was a win-win situation. Cookies/biscuits AND it used up another item from my pantry. The recipe, as posted by Paul Hollywood, seems to be similar to the McVitie brand of biscuits.

Paul Hollywood’s Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

 

  

Review: Just a touch of sweetness. I used a 72% dark cocoa chocolate for the coating but if you want something sweeter, a milk chocolate would be tasty as well.

Sometimes, my cooking choice is designed around using up a specific ingredient. Like  the cream of wheat dumplings (Hungarian grizgaluska) I made with the last 3/4 cup of cream of wheat in my pantry. And the pot of chicken stock made with a chicken carcass, a few chicken backs and about a dozen chicken thigh bones that I ran across, as I was transferring the contents of the upstairs freezer to the basement one. I served the dumplings in the resulting soup.

 

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Sweet Potato Buns (and Looking at the Dough NOT the Clock)

I recently saw a post on one of my bread making FB groups about making potato bread/buns … and I was intrigued.

So, this past long weekend, I went down into the basement for the last six Yukon gold potatoes that I had …

… only to have a second thought based on the presence of a LARGE sweet potato in the shoe caddy hanging at the top of the stairs into the basement.

The result was eight HUGE moist and tender buns. (I used “Chef John’s” Sweet Potato Bun recipe from the All-recipes website.)

Crumb of the sweet potato buns

NOTE: On line recipes are sometimes a crap shoot when it comes to the detail of the instructions given, or lack thereof. In this particular case, the proofing times were way off. It took my dough one hour to rise to the top of the bowl NOT the two hours that the recipe claimed. Only the dinner plate covering the top of the bowl prevented a spill over. And my kitchen wasn’t even particularly warm … barely 72 deg F.

Based on that, I watched the final proofing time carefully. It took half an hour for the buns to have doubled in size. Since I had something else in the oven already, I threw the baking tray with the buns into the fridge until I was ready to bake them.

Looks like ‘someone’ was nibbling on that warm buttered bun. 🙂

REVIEW: Soft and tender buns with a bit of sweetness. Beautiful golden colour. The size though … well, when they said LARGE, they meant large. I used 115-120 gm of dough per bun. I’d scale that back to 95-100 gm next time which should give me ten buns and not the eight I ended up with. And I’d definitely make this recipe again.

Here’s another case of a recipe that didn’t QUITE work as expected.

Mocha cookies sounded pretty amazing when I ran across them on a recent web search. And the pictures made my mouth water. I followed the instructions carefully. Butter at room temperature. I even weighed it. Egg at room temperature. And I have a light and consistent hand when measuring flour. My oven is calibrated properly and it was preheated long enough that I knew it was accurate. I was surprised that the recipe said it only made FOURTEEN cookies but used a soup spoon to measure out the dough. The resulting balls were about two inches in diameter so I decided to scale them back to one inch in diameter, made the fourteen cookie balls and prepared to watch the timing so they wouldn’t burn.

SURPRISE

I ended up with little marbles.

They didn’t spread AT ALL even after I gave them an extra couple of minutes of baking time.

I still had a bit over half the cookie dough left so I weighed it, and divided the dough into EIGHT (46 gm) portions. The first batch of cookie balls had all sorts of cracks and imperfections after they baked so I made sure that these cookied balls were perfectly smooth, pre-baking. I took a good look at the dough balls before I put them in the oven and they looked HUGE. Since I didn’t want GIANT marbles, I decided to dip the base of a coffee mug into granulated sugar and flatten the dough balls.

NOTE: For some reason I didn’t think to increase the baking temperature from the 350 deg Fahrenheit in the recipe to 375 deg for this second batch.

The cookies still didn’t spread but the resulting cookies were more ‘cookie-like’ in shape. And like the first batch, they were soft.

REVIEW: The cookies were tasty though I think they were missing … something … taste-wise. I don’t think I’d make this recipe again.

Experiment: Mini Cheesecakes

Recently I had a cookie fail … a type of spritz cookies (ETA: they’re actually called meat grinder cookies) from a Hungarian recipe. I used an old cookie press that I inherited from my mom, but the dough was so stiff that I almost broke my thumbs trying to push it through the decorative nozzles. I finally gave up after forcing out about a dozen of each kind of cookie and threw away the rest of the dough. (I had added red gel food colour and cocoa powder to equal portions of the dough.) Even worse, the finished cookies were dry and tasteless.

In an effort to turn lemons into lemonade, I decided to grind up the cookies and use the ground crumbs as a base for individual cheesecakes.

I had about 1/2 cup of chocolate cookie crumbs to which I added 3 tbsp sugar and 3 tbsp of melted butter. After distributing the crumbs (3 tbsp each) among four 4 inch diameter disposable aluminum pot pie tins, I tamped the crumbs down with the base of a glass and baked the crusts for 8 minutes at 350 deg F, filled the cooled crusts with the cheesecake mixture made from one 8 oz package of cream cheese (I used the cheesecake recipe on the Philadelphia cream cheese box) and baked the cheesecakes until set (~20 min at 350 deg F). The chocolate half of the cheesecake based had 1 tbsp of sifted cocoa powder stirred into the mixture and I found the resulting mini cheesecakes somewhat dry compared to the vanilla cheesecakes. I decided to be economical and only fill the tins half way up, assuming that the cheesecake batter would souffle up during baking but it remained decidedly flat.

On the positive side, the cheesecakes were more palatable than the cookies. Though they won’t replace the mini cheesecakes I make with ‘Nilla wafers bases.

Holiday Cookies … Romanian Kolache/Hungarian Papucs and Hamantaschen

I vaguely remember my mom serving these walnut filled cookies, called “kolache”, for special occasions … but I don’t think she had made them in the last 20 years of her life. As a result, I have no idea what recipe she used. I was going to use the same dough I use to make rugelach (butter/cream cheese based) for the kolache, until I remembered that that’s a very tender dough, and worried that I would have problems sealing them. So I tried a dough recipe that I found on line for the triangular cookies served for Purim, called “hamantaschen” or “Haman’s ears”.

Jam (especially plum or apricot), poppy seed or walnut are probably the most popular fillings for kolache, hamantaschen or papucs. Since mincemeat is widely available at this time of year, and since I had bought a jar to make no churn ice cream with, that’s what I used for some of my cookies.

Mincemeat Kolache Platter

Baked and ready to have icing sugar sifted over the top … if you really want to

Kolache Recipe:

The cookie dough was rolled 1/8th inch thick, cut into 2 inch by 2 inch squares, filled with a half teaspoon of the filling of choice, sealed and baked in an oven preheated to 350 deg F for 16-18 minutes.

And, since I was making the hamantaschen dough, I made some hamantaschen too. I got better at shaping as I went along. The poppy seed filling is the same one used for my cozonac in an earlier post.

Poppy seed Hamantaschen

 

Barbie’s Super Simple Oatmeal Cookies (with Coconut)

I enjoyed the taste of the last batch of oatmeal cookies that I made … but the ‘look’ didn’t thrill me.

These, on the other hand, are very photogenic. And they taste good as well. Not overly sweet … next time, I’d use half the amount of salt though cause the margarine, which I used instead of butter, was salty enough.

This recipe also came out of Edna Staebler’s “Cookies and Squares with Schmecks Appeal”. The kitchen was a bit warm for September (77 deg F) so, by the time I had mixed up the dough and started shaping it into 1 inch sized balls, my dough was pretty sticky. I persevered and then refrigerated the resulting cookie balls.

After 30 minutes, I used the back of a fork to press down gently on the cookie balls in order to flatten them and baked the cookies for 14 minutes, instead of the 12 minutes recommended, in a preheated 350 deg F oven. I left the baked cookies on the baking sheet to cool for about 10 minutes, before using a thin metal spatula to transfer them onto the cooling rack, to finish cooling.

Brutti Ma Buoni ver. 2 – Uncooked Batter

I recently made a quick batch of blender Hollandaise sauce using a recipe a blog friend shared with me and had two egg whites to play with. So I made the ‘easy’ version of ‘brutti ma buoni’.

Pavlovas, vanilla pine nut ‘brutti ma buoni’ and chocolate almond ‘brutti ma buoni’

I left out the cocoa powder. Instead, I added a tablespoon of vanilla sugar for flavour. And for nuts, I toasted pine nuts and chopped them up coarsely. I took the egg whites out of the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for about half an hour, and added the sugar a tablespoon at the time, but had trouble getting the sugar to dissolve so I stirred in the nuts and baked them off anyway.

  

Rather than getting my usual glossy looking meringues, they were dull and gritty looking after baking.

The taste was still good though. I only added nuts to half the meringue while baking the rest plain. I loved the moist centers of the plain meringues … they turned out more like pavlovas but the vanilla ‘brutti ma buoni’ were tasty. I preferred them to the chocolate version, to be honest.

Inside the vanilla ‘brutti ma buoni’

Brutti Ma Buoni (“Ugly But Good” Cookies) ver. 1 – Cooked Batter

UUUUGLY Cookie Warning!!

REALLY … I’m NOT kidding. These cookies look funky, especially before you bake them, but they DO taste good.

I’ve been meaning to make these cookies for some time but kept putting it off, until now.

There are two basic techniques or versions of “brutti ma buoni”, and of course, I chose the more complicated one which involves cooking the meringue batter to dry it out before it’s spooned out onto a baking sheet and baked. Even though I watched several videos, I overcooked the batter so that the last few cookies ended up dried and crumbly. These cookies had cocoa powder folded into the batter. Hazelnuts seem to be used most commonly in the recipes that I researched but, I used sliced almonds, since I had some in my freezer. Other nuts like pine nuts, pecans or even walnuts, may be used alone or in combination.

Brutti ma buoni al cioccolato (Chocolate “Ugly but Good” Cookies) – makes 10-12 cookies

2 egg whites (~75 gm)
150 gm white sugar
150 gm nuts, toasted and chopped coarsely**
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

** Almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove 1 tbsp of the sugar and sift it, together with the cocoa powder, into a small bowl. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large, clean mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually spoon in the sugar and continue whisking until hard peaks form. Fold in the sugar/cocoa mixture, then the nuts.

You can spoon the meringue “batter” onto the baking sheet at this point and bake it OR transfer it into a thick bottomed sauce pan and cook on the stove top at medium-low heat while stirring gently. Cook, scraping the bottom, until the batter has dried out and starts pulling away from the bottom and sides, about 10-12 min. (NOTE: Remember, the batter keeps cooking when you pull the pan off the heat so you might want to under cook it a bit.)

Using 2 tablespoons (scrape out the batter from the first with the second) transfer mounds of the batter, onto your lined baking sheet, about an inch apart, and bake for 20-25 min. They will be firm to the touch, but soft deep in the centre.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes, after which they’ll be easier to remove with a thin spatula.

Let finish cooling on racks.

You can store leftover cookies in an air tight container in a cool dry place. Don’t refrigerate or freeze.

Chocolate Hazelnut Crackles (N is for Nutella Cookies)

This post combines two of my favourites, reading mysteries and baking. And chocolate. (But that’s pretty low down on my list of faves, to be honest.)

I’ve read almost all of the Joanne Fluke mysteries but can’t remember trying out any of the recipes she includes in each novel until I finished “Blackberry Pie Murder” late last night. One of the cookie recipes featured Nutella, and since I have most of a jar of the hazelnut chocolate spread in my pantry, I thought I’d give it a try. I just made half the recipe (2 1/2 – 3 dozen cookies) as I didn’t want to use up most of my unsalted butter.

The cookies were very good freshly baked, though I think they were even better a few hours later as the flavour developed/ripened. They’re not overly sweet so I liked them better than many sweeter cookies I’ve tried. I baked for the shorter time suggested as I wanted a chewy rather than a crunchy result. If you don’t want to just eat them plain with a cup of cold milk, turn them into ice cream sandwiches. If you want a fancier presentation, press a small hazelnut on top of the cookie ball before baking.

If you don’t think you can get a hold of the book from your library, you can find the recipe on line at “The Sugared Teacup” blog. (Sorry, the direct link is no longer valid.) below.

Chocolate Hazelnut Crackles (Nutella Cookies) – makes 5 to 6 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Nutella
2 large eggs, well beaten
3 cups all-purpose flour

Melt the butter (in a saucepan or microwave) and pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the brown sugar and vanilla. Beat well until the sugar is mixed in well. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt and stir.

Add the Nutella and stir in until smooth and then add the beaten eggs and stir.

Add the flour and continue mixing until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Form the dough into walnut-sized (~1 tbsp) balls and place them on a greased (or parchment paper lined) cookie sheet, 12 to a half sheet. (If the dough is too sticky to form into balls, chill it for a half hour or so).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes. The balls will flatten out all by themselves. (Note: For more chewy cookies, bake at the lesser time.)

Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then remove them to a wire rack with a thin metal spatula to finish cooling.

*****

Recipe from Joanne Fluke’s Blackberry Pie Murder. New York: Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2014.

Duck Fat Brioche, Oreo Fudge and Chicken Livers

Work is slow in January, after the return from the Christmas break, and as teachers gear up for the last few weeks before the end of the fall semester. So, when I was at home on the first day back, I decided to make another batch of the duck fat brioche dough that I’ve posted already. In the meantime, I’ve eaten several of the rolls I made and assembled sandwiches from the rest, which are all wrapped up and in the freezer. So, I need bread.

I decided to post the brioche recipe to make it more convenient for anyone who wants to give it a try and doesn’t want to have to deal with eliminating the sourdough starter from the recipe.

You can shape the dough in various ways, as seen in the previous post. I made 9 inch long hoagies and rolls using a couple of different braiding techniques, this time.

One strand braids, Easter wreaths and a mini hoagie

Duck Fat Brioche Dough – makes ~ 1 kg/2.2 lb dough, enough for about 16 buns or rolls

1 cup warm milk (or 1 cup water and 1 tbsp milk powder)
1 tbsp dry active yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 1/4-4 1/2 all purpose flour (or a combination of all purpose, bread and semolina flour), divided
1/4 cup melted duck fat (or bacon fat or butter, if you can’t get the duck fat )
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg and 1 tbsp water, for egg wash

Dissolve the sugar in the warm milk, then stir in the yeast. Let sit and proof until foamy, about 10-15 min depending on temperature in the room.

In a large bowl, add 2 cups of flour and the salt and mix through. Make a well in the middle and add your eggs, melted fat and yeast mixture. Beat well with a large wooden or metal spoon until you get a sticky batter. Gradually stir in the remaining flour, 1/3-1/2 cup at a time until you can no longer stir it and a ball starts forming around the spoon. Turn the batter onto a lightly floured working surface and gradually knead in more flour until you get a soft but not sticky dough. It will take you about 7-10 minutes. You can take a break after 5 minutes. Cover the dough with the bowl that you made your bread in and after a few minutes continue kneading.

Oil a large bowl, place your ball of dough into the bowl and turn it around a bit so the ball gets lightly coated with oil as well. Cover the bowl with a large sheet of plastic food wrap and a clean towel and place in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, 1 – 1 1/2 hr depending on the temperature in the room.

Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 2 portions. Divide each half into 8 portions and shape as desired.

Cover with an oiled sheet of plastic food wrap (oil the one you used previously) and a clean towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 min to 1 hr.

Preheat the oven to 425 deg F. (For the buns or rolls, you can preheat the oven to 375-400 deg F.)

Brush the buns or rolls with egg wash and bake until the top is golden brown and the bottom is firm, about 18-22 minutes. If you think you need to bake a bit longer, cover the tops with a sheet of aluminum foil and continue baking for several more minutes.

Hoagie buns – you can make about 8 6-8 inch long buns (113.5 g/ 1/4 lb each). When baked, you’ll end up with a 9 inch long hoagie or submarine bun. For 12 inch hoagies, you might want to use double the amount of dough (227 g/ 1/2 lb)

For the Oreo cookie fudge switch-up, I used the basic vanilla fudge recipe, added a couple of ounces of finely shaved white chocolate and 6 crumbled Oreo cookies.

I know not everyone likes chicken livers but I do. So I bought 2 pounds, cleaned them up and then fried them in a couple of tablespoons of canola oil with a finely chopped onion, a splash of French brandy and a bit of paprika for colour. Delicious over mashed potatoes or the creamy polenta below.

Happy New Year! … Leg of Lamb Roast and Oreo Cheesecake

Sorry for the belated post but I’ve been a bit lazy so I’ve got a bunch of stuff to share.

I made an Oreo cheesecake to go with my simple boneless leg of lamb roast New Year’s dinner.

The slices I cut for my dinner were from the fatty end of the roast and a BIT underdone so the roast, including the slices you see on the plate, went back into the oven for another 15 minutes. (Lesson learned, try the directions ON the package before you get creative.) The lamb looked like the picture below when I ate it.

The much nicer end of the roast

I didn’t have a lot of inspiration for a pretty cheesecake plating so here’s a profile shot.

Most of the cheesecake went into the freezer.