Chocolate Crinkle Cookies with Almonds and Sea Salt

Dark Chocolate Cookies TasteFood

Dark Chocolate Crinkle Cookies with Almonds and Sea Salt

Sometimes when life hands you lemons….you make chocolate. In this case, deeply dark, intensely rich Swiss chocolate in the form of a cookie.  While I can’t speak for you, I can do with some chocolate therapy right now, and this cookie is just the antidote. In fact, it’s hard to find a more chocolate-y cookie. Nearly 1 pound of melted dark chocolate is reconfigured in an airy yet rich cookie with a crackly exterior and gooey center, all thanks to 4 billowy eggs and just a little bit of flour. The lemonade will have to wait for another day.

Dark Chocolate Cookie Plate TasteFood

Dark Chocolate Crinkle Cookies with Almonds and Sea Salt

My chocolate mantra applies to this recipe: Choose the best quality dark (70-72%) chocolate you can lay your hands on.

Makes approximately 30 (2-inch) cookies.

14 ounces (400 g) dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
Sea salt

Melt chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.
Beat eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until thick and very pale in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add chocolate and vanilla. Mix to combine.
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Add to chocolate and stir to combine without overmixing. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 325° F (170° C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop heaping tablespoons of the cookie batter onto parchment, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Sprinkle each cookie with a few almonds and a pinch of sea salt flakes. Bake in oven until tops crack and cookies are set, 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer parchment to wire racks to cool. Allow cookies to cool completely before removing from parchment (they will stick if they are still warm).

Salted Caramel Blondie Bars

Salted Caramel Blondie Bars

You might call these “everything but the kitchen sink bars” but Salted Caramel Blondie Bars (with chocolate and oats) pretty much sums up these rich and chewy nuggets. What prompted this recipe was my discovery of a forgotten jar of homemade salted caramel sauce in the back of the refrigerator. I know: You are thinking, how could anyone forget caramel? Good question, and I admit I’m not proud. To rectify my oversight, I quickly whipped up these blondies today to satisfy a sweet craving, and to start building our sugar tolerance in the lead up to Halloween at the end of the month. To balance out all of the sweet ingredients, a sprinkling of sea salt over the top of the bars helps to tame the excess – which (naturally) enables us to eat more.

Salted Caramel Blondie Bars with Chocolate and Oats

The addition of oats is optional. If oats are omitted, then increase the amount of flour to 2 cups. Makes 36 small squares.

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
3.5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup salted caramel sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt

Heat oven to 350 F. Butter an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pan. Line with parchment and butter the parchment. Whisk the brown sugar and butter together in a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until smooth. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl and whisk to blend. Add to the sugar and butter, stirring to incorporate. Stir in the oats and chocolate. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Drop spoonfuls of the caramel over the batter. Using a sharp knife, swirl the caramel through the batter to evenly distribute. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sea salt. Bake in oven until top begins to turn golden brown and bars are set, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a rack.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Therapy

Chocolate Chip Cookie Therapy

Sometimes, life gets busy and a few curveballs come our way. Best laid plans are, well, put to rest. So, we go with the flow, chin-up, and carry on. In honor of life’s little bumps and interruptions, I offer this simple gift. It’s nothing new, but, rather, something familiar, comfortable, and oh-so sweet. You’ve seen these cookies here before in a 24-hour version, but this batch requires no such waiting, because there is a time and place for instant gratification, too. Especially when chocolate is involved.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 30 cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped dark chocolate

Heat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Combine the butter and sugars together in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat at high speed until light and creamy. Add egg and yolk. Continue to mix until thoroughly combined. Add the vanilla and mix again. Whisk the flour, salt and baking soda together in a small bowl. Add to the butter and sugar and mix until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and chocolate. Drop rounded tablespoons of the batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake until tops are light golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

~ very lemony lemon bars ~

‘Tis the season for lemons. Actually, late winter is the season for lemons, but happily the season spills into spring, offering up bushels of citrus which beget light and lovely desserts, such as these Lemon Bars. Lemon Bars are a family favorite, a quintessential childhood treat that pleases adults and kids alike. The key to a good lemon bar, in my book, is that the filling must be intensely lemony packing a wallop of tart, with just enough sugar, but not so sweet that it’s cloying. The final touch is a pinch of sea salt, which keeps the sweetness in check and allows the lemon to shine through.

Lemon Bars

This recipe is adapted from and inspired by many sources, including Ina Garten and, most recently, Lucas’ Lemon Bars from Food52, as well as my personal weakness for sea salt. Makes 32 two-inch square bars.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cool, cut in cubes

4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Sea salt flakes, such as Maldon or Fleur de Sel, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 inch by 13 inch baking pan. Line with parchment and butter the parchment. Combine the pastry ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix until the dough resembles coarse lumps and just begins to come together. Dump the dough into the prepared pan and, with your fingers, evenly press the dough to cover the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until it just begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven.
Whisk the filling ingredients together in a large bowl until blended. Evenly pour over the crust. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is set but not coloring, about 25 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a rack. Cut into bars. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and lightly sprinkle with sea salt flakes.

Home Baking: White Chocolate and Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Home Baking: White Chocolate and Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

~ White Chocolate and Coconut Oatmeal Cookies ~

Wherever we move, there is a kitchen ritual to settling in. A new home is exciting and unsettling. There are new smells, a different light and the need to relearn a dance in our daily routine. Things are lost, then found and lost again.  We hurry to get our groove, a new groove, which will eventually transform into normal, while the urge is never stronger to wrap ourselves in the comfort of the familiar. So one of the first things I do is bake cookies. As the cookies bake, their fragrance wafts through the house marking its territory and reminding us of our family life. The smell coaxes us from our various rooms, technologies and activities, and we sit together, again, at our kitchen table, sharing a plate of home baked cookies with milk and tea.

White Chocolate and Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen; Deb at Smitten Kitchen has a way with sea salt, and this recipe immediately caught my attention. I’ve adapted it slightly and added a shower of coconut to the dough.

Makes approximately 30 2-inch cookies

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus extra for sprinkling
6 ounces high quality white chocolate, chopped, about 1 cup
Sea salt flakes, such as Maldon or Fleur de Sel, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl; set aside. Beat butter and sugars together in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add flour and mix to thoroughly combine. Add oats, coconut and chocolate and mix to blend. Shape in 1 1/2 inch balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment. Flatten slightly. Sprinkle with a pinch of coconut and a few grains of sea salt, gently pressing into the dough. Bake in oven until light golden, about 14 minutes.

Chunky Chocolate Cookies with Toasted Almonds and Raisins

Chunky Chocolate Cookies with Toasted Almonds and Raisins

Chocolate Therapy:
Chunky Chocolate Cookies with Toasted Almonds and Raisins 

As we tighten our purse strings, eat out less, purchase fewer perceived must-haves, it’s important to take a moment to focus on the simpler things in our lives that bring us pleasure: Family and friends? Absolutely. Good health and happy children? Of course! Beautiful sunsets and autumn foliage? Thank you very much. But right now what I’m most interested in is chocolate.

It’s not so long ago that I posted a recipe with chocolate on my blog. Perhaps this is reflection of the state of the world as I know it.  So call me repetitive or even a diet saboteur, but let’s be frank. Chocolate is good. When you taste it, you know it. More importantly, when you serve it to your friends and loved ones, it brings a smile to their faces. And, these days, generating smiles on the faces of people we know and touch is a very good thing.

Chunky Chocolate Cookies with Toasted Almonds and Raisins
Makes  30 2-inch cookies

14 ounces dark (70%) chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups  granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped
3/4 cup golden raisins

Melt  chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Beat sugar and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer until thick and very pale in color, 3 minutes. Add chocolate and vanilla to the eggs and mix well. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Add to the chocolate and mix to combine.  Stir in almonds and raisins. Refrigerate batter 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter onto the parchment. Bake until the tops are cracked and firm to the touch, 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven. The cookies will still be soft in the center and will continue to harden as they cool. Cool completely on parchment. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

More chocolate therapy? Then try these recipes:
Chocolate Orange Pots de Creme with Fleur de Sel from TasteFood
Miette’s Chocolate Sable Cookies from the Kitchn
Rich Chocolate Brownies from TasteFood
Chocolate Caramel Tart from My Baking Addiction

24 Hour Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

24 Hour Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

You will have to trust me on this. This chocolate chip cookie recipe does indeed require more than 24 hours to make. Most of the time it’s simply sitting in the refrigerator, where the batter will be in lock-down, off limits to sneaky fingers looking for a swipe. It won’t be easy. Especially if you are like me, and sadly accustomed to instant gratification when chocolate is involved. Well, here is a little exercise in self-restraint – consider it a late New Year’s challenge. Summon your will power and tip your hat to the process. Wait the full 24 hours between preparing the batter and baking the cookies. The results are what I consider the best* chocolate chip cookies I remember tasting. You can then congratulate yourself and your family on your discipline and proceed to eat as many cookies as you like.

24 Hour Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I discovered this technique in the fall issue of the wonderful e-magazine Made with Butter. The following recipe is adapted from Jennifer Kaplan’s Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Makes about 30 – 1 1/2 inch cookies.

3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sea salt for sprinkling

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Divide the butter in 4 pieces and add to the pan. The butter will begin to melt and foam. Continue cooking the butter until it becomes golden brown and the milk solids sink to the bottom, resembling small dark brown particles, 5 – 10 minutes. (It took me 7  minutes. Watch the butter carefully because it can burn very quickly.) Remove from heat, and cool for several minutes to lukewarm.
While the butter is cooling, whisk flour, salt and baking soda together in a large bowl. Set aside.
Once the butter has cooled, add both sugars to the skillet. Mix thoroughly to combine. Add the egg and egg yolk, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour and stir to combine. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 24 hours.
To bake the cookies, preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchement. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of dough (it will be stiff) and place on baking sheet, leaving enough room for the cookies to expand as they bake. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Bake cookies until light golden in color and just cooked through, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on rack. If you are using the same pan for another batch of cookies, first allow the pan to cool completely. Enjoy!