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!

Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookies

Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookies

~ Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookies ~

We’ve waited until very late (for us) to get our Christmas tree this year. Normally it’s up in early December, and by time the 25th arrives, we light the candles in a last hurrah, before dismantling it the next day. This year is a little different. We harvested our tree only this past weekend, on Saturday evening in the dark. As we picked it out, it felt like we were back in Denmark, searching for a tree in the darkness of the nordic winter. We spent Sunday decorating and will continue to do so over the next few days – after all, everyone has to have their way with the decorations. Then on the 24th, we will light the tree in its full glory as we celebrate julaften or Christmas eve, when we eat our big holiday dinner. In true Scandinavian fashion we use live candles, and it’s truly the most beautiful sight to behold.

Since the tree is so fresh, it will remain standing for a good week after Christmas, which is perfect, since we are home for the holidays this year and look forward to friends stopping in for wine and gløgg.  In anticipation, I’ve made an extra large batch of these Ginger Molasses Spiced Cookies to have on hand for any last minute tree tweaking and unexpected guests who might surprise us. The spice of these cookies goes very well with a glass of warm spiced gløgg.

Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookies

I was honored that Food52 selected these cookies last week as their contribution to a virtual cookie swap, hosted by Food Network and Yahoo! Shine. And Alicia, the talent behind the delicious blog Weekly Greens, has featured this recipe in her Whole Foods Market Cooking Column. Christmas has indeed come early this year!

Makes about 42 (1 1/2 inch) cookies.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1/3 cup finely diced candied ginger, optional
Granulated sugar for rolling

Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, salt, and cloves in a bowl to combine.  Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and molasses and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Stir in the candied ginger. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Pour some granulated sugar into a small bowl. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, then in the sugar. Arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and gently flatten. Bake in oven until set and crinkled on top, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove and cool.

Dried Cherry and Pistachio Biscotti

Dried Cherry and Pistachio Biscotti

~ Dried Cherry and Pistachio Biscotti ~

In my never-ending quest to create new recipes to please my family and my readers, I rarely follow a published recipe to a “t”.  Instead I create, tweak and spin recipes to my taste, reading cookbooks and magazines for inspiration then casting them aside while I let my thoughts simmer and stew until a wisp of the season, a sudden craving or an irresistable market item presents itself as motivation. Except for these biscotti.

This recipe is nearly a direct re-production of a recipe from Bon Appetit. It follows the recipe almost to the “t”, and then a change I made was not my idea at all, but the idea of my friend, Pam, who brought these cookies to our annual Summer Solstice beach barbecue this summer. I knew I was in trouble when I found myself walking around the beach munching on 2 fistfuls of these cookies before we even started grilling.

These biscotti have everything that I like in a cookie: fruit, nuts, a restrained sweetness, and the perfume from orange zest. Pam’s idea was not to fully bake them to enamel-cracking crispness. Instead they were baked to a wonderful crumbly perfection, which begged for more tasting without breaking my teeth, enabling further eating – to which I happily complied.

Dried Cherry and Pistachio Biscotti
recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes  approximately 30 biscotti

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Zest from one orange
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.)  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the first 6 ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle. Blend on low speed, 30 seconds. Whisk eggs, oil, zest, vanilla and almond extracts together in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the flour. Beat on medium speed until combined, 1 minute. Stir in cherries and pistachios.
Divide dough in half. Shape each dough half into a 16 inch log. Arrange on a baking sheet, spaced 5 inches apart. Flatten each log into a 2 inch wide strip. Bake until golden brown and set, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a rack. Cool 15 minutes.
Reduce oven to 250 F. (125 C.)  Transfer biscotti to a cutting board. Cut in 3/4 inch strips with a serrated knife. Return biscotti to the baking sheet and arrange cut side down. Bake until firm and golden, 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on racks.
Biscotti may be made up to 3 days in advance. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Banana Chip Bars

Banana Chip Bars

Banana Chips, Coconut, Dark Chocolate

This time I blame the banana chips. Due to a last minute panic-induced purchase for a school event, I had a bucket of them sitting in my refrigerator. You might understand the situation which led to this:  Worried that (heaven forbid) not enough dessert would be provided for a tropical-based menu for a lunch at my daughter’s school,  I threw a few, er, many packages of banana chips into my shopping basket on the way to the lunch – just in case the mob inhaled all 47 other dishes represented in the school-wide buffet and were up in arms about not enough sugar to complete their smorgasbord. (As if banana chips would be sufficient to stave off an angry sugar-deprived crowd – what was I thinking?)  As it turned out, any testy unrest was avoided, since we (naturally) had too much food in the first place.  And so the banana chips came home with me and have been patiently waiting in my refrigerator to be put to use – until today.

It was a baking kind of day today, and I decided to throw together a simple bar cookie. Normally I include coconut and chocolate chips in my bars, and figured the banana chips would make a nice addition. I chopped a bunch up in my food processor (you may want ear plugs for this) and folded the chips into the batter. They added a wonderful chewy texture with a mild buttery flavor to the bars, without an overpowering banana flavor or excess sweetness. Toothsome and chewy, they almost made the bars feel…healthy? Ok, that may be pushing it.

Banana Chip Bars
Makes 24 – 2 inch bars

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut, plus extra for the topping
1 cup coarsely chopped banana chips
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment. Whisk sugars and butter together in a large bowl. Add egg and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Combine flour, wheat germ, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Add to the sugar and butter and mix well. Stir in coconut, banana chips and chocolate chips. Pour into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle evenly with additional coconut. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Easy Weekend Baking: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Easy Weekend Baking: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I am very picky about my oatmeal raisin cookies. I like them crunchy, I like them chewy, and I like them rich, with a dissolving sweetness in the mouth. I want it all.
This recipe is the closest I have come to the perfect cookie. It’s packed with oats and raisins with just a little flour to bind it all together, along with a blast of wheat germ for nutty crunch. There is no white sugar in this recipe – only brown sugar, which gives the rich, deep sweetness I crave. Let me know what you think.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Refrigerating the cookies before baking will ensure a thicker, chewier cookie. Makes about 30 – 2 inch cookies.

1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 3/4 cups light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 cups raisins

Whisk butter, sugar, egg and vanilla together in a large bowl until smooth. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl. Stir the flour into the butter and sugar and thoroughly combine. Stir in the oats and wheat germ; then add the raisins. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 F. (190 C.) Drop rounded tablespoons of the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Bake until cookies are set in the middle and golden brown, 12 – 14 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.