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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Browned butter brown sugar cookies

I had really been a bum when it came to baking this month.  Sadly, the last two posts that I put up today were from a few weeks ago -- and that's the last time I actually baked anything.  It's a shame, really.  But the decadence of these cookies more than makes up for the lack of baking I've been doing.  Like I-think-I-gained-back-the-few-pounds-I-lost-in-the-past-week-or-so decadent....and I just ate one!


The secret is actually two-fold: don't use regular butter, use browned butter*....and don't use sugar, don't use light brown sugar, but use dark brown sugar.  Uber decadent.  Uber rich.  Thank goodness they're so rich I can't eat more than one at a time, because if I could, I would....and that would be dangerous!


* When it comes to making browned butter, be careful.  It goes from perfectly browned and nutty and aromatic to burnt in a few seconds.  Trust me, it happened to me the first time I made browned butter and it turned me off to making it for a while.  And then I made it again today for these cookies and....in the span of 2 seconds, I burned the batch again!  Bottom line?  Watch it.  Like a hawk.  Consider yourselves forewarned.



These cookies are delicious.  But they aren't for the faint of heart (or the diabetics....)...

Browned Butter Brown Sugar Cookies
From Eats Well With Others

Ingredients:

14 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (if you have light brown sugar and molasses, you can find a conversion online to turn your light brown sugar into dark brown sugar....trust me, it's what I had to do)
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda (Looking back, I may have used 3/4 tsp)
1/4 tsp (Looking back, I may have used 1/2 tsp....my head was clearly in the clouds today)
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla
(You can see, from above, that my head may have been in the clouds a little when I was measuring the ingredients, since I'm not sure if I 1.5-2 timesed the baking soda and powder.  The cookies turned out perfectly, so I'm not sure what happened, but that might explain why my cookies were a little fluffier than I thought they would've been.  But I digress...)

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
(I couldn't do the conversions again for the light to dark brown sugar for this one, so I just used 1/2 cup light brown sugar plus 2-3 Tbsp granulated sugar, mixed well, and that worked perfectly!)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Melt butter in a skillet or frying pan over medium heat.
Allow to simmer until it starts to turn an amber color, and smelly nutty and fragrant.
Remove from the heat, and place in a separate bowl.
Allow to cool for 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the browned butter and brown sugar until well-blended.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Set aside.

Add the egg and egg yolk to the sugar/butter mixture, one at a time.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
Mix in the vanilla.

Mix the flour mixture into the mixer, stirring until just combined.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and brown sugar (or, use the mixture I gave above).

Scoop the cookie dough into balls using a 1 1/2 Tbsp cookie scoop or scoop into rounded tablespoons.
Roll each ball in the sugar mixture.
Place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies.
I pressed mine down a little bit.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are starting to set around the edges.
Allow to cool before serving.

Dried apricot-studded shortbread cookies

I was kinda on a roll with those fruit-studded shortbread cookies.  I made them with cranberries for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this past year, then I tried them out a few weeks later with a mixture of sweet and tart cherries, and in between I made them with some toasted coconut....and then I even went a step further and dipped those coconut beauties into some semisweet chocolate and sprinkled them with some salt.  But something was missing.  Namely one of my all-time favorite dried fruits....the apricot.  So, I set out one last time to make those shortbread cookies with some diced dried apricots.




Dried Apricot Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 - 1 cup dried (Turkish) apricots, diced or chopped

Directions:

Chop the apricots by hand into smaller pieces -- I diced mine to make sure they were more uniform in size.
Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speech until fluffy.
Add milk and vanilla.
Beat to combine.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour and salt.
Continue beating until the dough forms.
Add the chopped apricots.
Mix with a spatula to combine.

Divide the dough into 2 portions.
Shape each piece into a log.
Wrap logs in plastic wrap.
Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Then, move to the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Using a sharp knife, cut each log into thin slices, about 1/4 inch thick.
Place cookies onto a ungreased cookie sheet (I used a parchment lined cookie sheet).
Bake until edges are just starting to turn brown, about 12 minutes (mine took about 10 minutes).

Remove from the oven.
Place cookies on a wire rack to cool.

Chocolate chip cookies

At the beginning of the month, I made some chocolate chip cookies.  They weren't really special chocolate chip cookies, nor were they a new recipe, but there was something momentous and exciting about these cookies.  See, these were the first cookies I baked a B's apartment.  We were running errands and ended up at the grocery store, and I decided on a whim to make some chocolate chip cookies.  I used a standard recipe (Toll House's recipe, because, well, why not?!), and subbed in some fancier chocolate chips (namely Guittard chocolate chips) and a teensy weensy pinch more salt.


The cookies were delish (but again, this should come as no surprise), and I loved being able to serve B cookies fresh out of the oven (he always gets them a day later, or at best a few hours later), because that's really when they're the best!


Gussied Up Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adjusted -- minimally -- from the Toll House semi-sweet morsels bag

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups of flour (all-purpose)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt, plus a small pinch
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar (granulated sugar)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12 oz package) high end semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard; ghirardelli would work, too, and frankly, you could use Toll House, too)

Directions:

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. 
Beat butter, both sugars, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy....or in my case, when a mixer isn't available, a whisk and a lot of upper body strength work nicely.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
Gradually beat in flour mixture. 
Stir in chips.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets (I used parchment paper-lined baking sheets)
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown
Let cool on baking sheets.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Dried cherry shortbread cookies

Christmas came and went with nary a blog post by me.  It's a shame, really.  But work was insane (I mean INSANE!!!), and I was spending most of my time at work or charting for work, and spending some time with B, and I wasn't really able to blog much.  But that doesn't mean that I didn't sneak in a few cookies for the holidays.  Namely some (more) fruity shortbread cookies.


These dried cherry shortbread cookies were B's other favorite from the shortbread taste test from about a month ago (along with these toasted coconut ones).  I decided to make these with a combination of dried sweet and tart cherries, to give them a delicious intense cherry flavor, and it worked!   And I love the bright red flecks that the cherries lend to the cookies -- very festive for the holidays!


Sweet & Tart Dried Cherry Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 - 1 cup dried cherries (sweet, tart, or a combination of both -- I used half of each), chopped

Directions:

Chop the cherries by hand or in a food processor into smaller pieces.
Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speech until fluffy.
Add milk and vanilla.
Beat to combine.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour and salt.
Continue beating until the dough forms.
Add the chopped cherries.
Mix with a spatula to combine.

Divide the dough into 2 portions.
Shape each piece into a log.
Wrap logs in plastic wrap.
Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Then, move to the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Using a sharp knife, cut each log into thin slices, about 1/4 inch thick.
Place cookies onto a ungreased cookie sheet (I used a parchment lined cookie sheet).
Bake until edges are just starting to turn brown, about 12 minutes (mine took about 10 minutes).

Remove from the oven.
Place cookies on a wire rack to cool.

Vanilla bean fudge

I didn't really grow up eating fudge. So as a result, it's really something that I simply don't crave.  But it always looks so good and rich and delicious when I see it -- as well as when I see the thousands (literally!) of fudge recipes posted around the holidays.  I made some fudge last year (it was super duper loaded with tons of  things including potato chips!), and there were white chocolate-Oreo and cookie dough varieties before that, but given how long I've been baking and how long this blog has been around, that's not a whole lot of fudge!


So I set out to make some fudge again this holiday season.  It was such a hit last year, and I wanted something I could make ahead.  So I went searching through the multitude of fudge recipes populating Pinterest and this one particular recipe caught my eye.  It was fudge....but it wasn't chocolate (I always equate fudge with either chocolate or peanut butter (or both!), but this one was neither)!  Also, seeing as I was planning on making a double batch, I was glad it was vanilla, since B loves vanilla (ie. I had someone to give fudge to to get it out of my kitchen, and therefore not on my hips)!



Vanilla Bean Fudge
From Chocolate Moosey

I doubled the recipe, since I wanted thicker but smaller pieces of fudge (so I used a 9x9 inch pan).  The ingredients listed below are for a single batch.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut in 1 Tbsp pieces
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and seeds scraped

Directions:

Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper.

In a large heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, and milk.
Bring to a rolling boil, stirring until everything is smooth.
Boil for 5 minutes, stirring often (make sure you don't shorten this time, or the fudge may not firm up).

Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips, marshmallow fluff, vanilla extract, and vanilla seeds until melted and smooth (it will be thick!).
Spread into the pan (if the fudge thickens too much, put it back over the heat until it's easy to stir again).
Let cool until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.
Cut into pieces.
If not serving all at once, cut off what you want and leave the remaining slab of fudge, wrapped in a plastic bag, in the fridge.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Chocolate dipped toasted coconut shortbread cookies with salt

Remember those Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies I made recently?  The ones that B chose as one of his favorites when I forced him to taste test different kinds of shortbread cookies for my online cookie swap?  I decided that as delicious as they are, chocolate could maybe possible likely make them even better.  And a sprinkling of sea salt might just take them over the top.


So I defrosted that second log in the freezer that was just waiting to fill the void when I needed some last minute cookies, baked them up, and then dipped them in some semisweet chocolate and sprinkled them with sea salt.  Because really, when don't chocolate and sea salt make everything better?!


Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from this original recipe, also found on the blog here

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 - 1 cup toasted coconut

1 bag of semisweet chocolate chips, or chocolate of your choice
Sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions:

Toast the coconut on a baking sheet in an oven that has been preheated to 350F.
Watch the coconut closely as it tends to burn quite easily.
Stir often.
Mine took about 8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.
Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speech until fluffy.
Add milk and vanilla.
Beat to combine.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour and salt.
Continue beating until the dough forms.
Add the toasted coconut, crushing it slightly between your fingers as you add it.
Mix with a spatula to combine.

Divide the dough into 2 portions.
Shape each piece into a log.
Wrap logs in plastic wrap.
Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Then, move to the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Using a sharp knife, cut each log into thin slices, about 1/4 inch thick.
Place cookies onto a ungreased cookie sheet (I used a parchment lined cookie sheet).
Bake until edges are just starting to turn brown, about 12 minutes (mine took about 10 minutes).

Remove from the oven.
Place cookies on a wire rack to cool.

Once cookies are cool, melt half of the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments until melted and smooth.
Place a sheet of wax paper on the counter or a baking sheet.
Dip cookies half way into chocolate.
Shake off excess chocolate.
Place cookie on wax paper.
Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on the chocolate while it's still wet.

Repeat with remaining cookies.

Melt more chocolate as needed.

Once all cookies are done and the chocolate has hardened, place cookies in an airtight container.
Cookies will last at least 3 days in the container (if they'll even last that long!!).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Toasted coconut shortbread cookies

When I made the cookies for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I started off with four different flavors, and then employed B to do a taste test.  One of his two favorites were these toasted coconut shortbread cookies (his other favorite will make an appearance on the blog soon).  They're jam-packed with toasted coconut flavor and the buttery crispiness of a shortbread cookie.  They're absolutely delicious and insanely easy to make.  And like these - where I subbed the toasted coconut for the original chopped dried cranberries - you can add almost any kind of dried fruit (spoiler alert, I'll be making two more varieties of these for my doormen this holiday season), or even nonpareils like I did with these last month...


The nice thing about these is that you can also keep the logs in the freezer for last minute cookie baking, and then just thaw them in the fridge a little longer before slicing (take it from my experience -- if they're in the freezer for a long time, they're too hard to slice if you have to use your entire body weight on the knife and you don't even make a dent....).


Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from this original recipe, also found on the blog here

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 - 1 cup toasted coconut

Directions:

Toast the coconut on a baking sheet in an oven that has been preheated to 350F.
Watch the coconut closely as it tends to burn quite easily.
Stir often.
Mine took about 8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.
Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speech until fluffy.
Add milk and vanilla.
Beat to combine.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour and salt.
Continue beating until the dough forms.
Add the toasted coconut, crushing it slightly between your fingers as you add it.
Mix with a spatula to combine.

Divide the dough into 2 portions.
Shape each piece into a log.
Wrap logs in plastic wrap.
Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Then, move to the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Using a sharp knife, cut each log into thin slices, about 1/4 inch thick.
Place cookies onto a ungreased cookie sheet (I used a parchment lined cookie sheet).
Bake until edges are just starting to turn brown, about 12 minutes (mine took about 10 minutes).

Remove from the oven.
Place cookies on a wire rack to cool.