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.

Orange, Chocolate and Almond Biscotti

Orange, Chocolate and Almond Biscotti


~ Orange, Chocolate and Almond Biscotti ~

Biscotti are a twice-baked crisp Italian cookie, famously crunchy and perfect for dipping in coffee or milk. Many variations exist, including the traditional anise or almond biscotti, as well as cocoa infused chocolate biscotti. In this recipe I threw in everything I like in a cookie: chocolate, raisins, toasted almonds and orange zest. It sounds like a busy list of ingredients, but the resulting cookie was delightfully simple and not overly sweet.

Orange, Chocolate and Almond Biscotti
I added raisins to the biscotti as an afterthought for a little sweetness and texture; they may be omitted if you prefer a drier biscotti. I recommend using golden raisins for their color and flavor if you can find them.

Makes  approximately 30 biscotti.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1  teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping tablespoon orange zest
3.5 ounces (100 g.) finely chopped or grated dark chocolate
1 cup finely chopped toasted almonds
3/4 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a bowl of an electric mixer. Mix briefly to combine. Whisk eggs, oil, orange liqueur, vanilla and zest together in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the flour. Beat on medium speed until combined, 1 minute. Stir in chocolate, raisins and almonds.
Divide dough in half. Transfer to baking sheet and shape each half into a log the length of the baking sheet. Flatten each log into a 2 inch wide strip. Bake until firm and beginning to color, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes.
Reduce oven to 300 F. (150 C.)  Transfer biscotti to a cutting board. Cut in 3/4 inch strips with a serrated knife.  Arrange cut side down on baking sheet. Bake until they are lightly golden, about 20 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking. Remove from oven and cool completely on racks. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

 

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.

The Cookiepedia and a recipe for Chocolate Crinkles

The Cookiepedia and a recipe for Chocolate Crinkles

~
I received a new cookbook today, and I am smitten. It’s called The Cookiepedia: Mixing, Baking and Reinventing the Classics, written by Stacy Adimando. I must confess that I was somewhat skeptical of what a classic cookie book could show me. I am a straightforward baker when it comes to cookies. I rely on a short list of traditional goodies, often made at the spur of the moment without much thought except to quell a craving for something sweet, buttery, chocolate and uncomplicated. I’ve been making my family’s favorite cookies for so long I rarely use a recipe, relying on memory and simple ratios. Why would I need another recipe for my tried and true favorites?

Well, maybe I don’t need another recipe, but perhaps I do need a kick in the butt. For so long I have been making cookies by rote, with a little tweaking here and there to shake things up. While I know what I am doing, I realize that I have forgotten why I am doing it. The Cookiepedia is the perfect reminder that instructs and informs in a bright and friendly manner – just like you were baking with a friend or sister who happens to know a lot about a cookie. It has all the usual suspects (nearly 50 in all, including mint thins, snickerdoodles, blondies, and meringues), doled out with a healthy measure of tips, facts, tweaks and variations. Just like a girlfriend who knows your dirty laundry, real life is taken into consideration with time constraints, picky eaters, potential mishaps, even weather glitches in its guidance. It takes your hand, keeps you company and strikes up a conversation, while you do what you love to do – bake cookies. Consider this a Betty Crocker Cooky Book for the modern family. In fact, I bet Betty would take a few notes.

Chocolate Crinkles

These plump chocolate morsels didn’t crinkle so much as poof for me. The results were a  fudgy, brownie, cake-like cookie which tasted fabulous. (Who can argue with a description like that?)  Makes about 30 – 1 inch cookies.

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar for rolling

Combine chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. (Be sure thhe bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.) Let the chocolate start to melt, then stir occasionally until it’s smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
Beat the sugar and eggs in a bowl of an electric mixer until thick and smooth, 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate. Beat on medium-low speed until they’re combined.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl. Add the mixture in 2 batches, beating each time until just combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to scoop, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.) Roll 1-inch balls of dough in a bowl of powdered sugar, coating them completely. Place them 1 1/2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 8-10 minutes until they just feel firm. (The cookies are best when slightly undercooked in the center.) Cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Note: I found that most of the powdered sugar melted while baking, so once the cookies were fully cooled, I rolled them again in the sugar.

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Cookiepedia. Written by Stacy Adimando and photographed by Tara Striano. Published by Quirk Books.
Full disclosure: I received a free copy of The Cookiepedia from Quirk Books. 

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.

Scandinavian Classic Baking and a recipe for Desert Sand Cookies

Scandinavian Classic Baking and a recipe for Desert Sand Cookies

When Pat Sinclair asked me if I would like a copy of her newly published cookbook, Scandinavian Classic Baking, I didn’t hesitate to accept. She reached out to me after she read an article I wrote on Danish Open Face Sandwiches for NPR – perhaps recognizing another kindred spirit when it comes to Scandinavian cuisine. Well, she got that right.

Since the book arrived, I have pored through it – that is, when I have had a chance to read it. This book has struck a nostalgic chord in our entire family, with everyone vying for a look and tagging favorite recipes. And there is something for all of us:  soft, yeasty cinnamon rolls drizzled with almond icing, cardamom scented breakfast buns, Swedish pancakes with lingonberries and ginger-spiced pepperkakor cookies – to name but a few.

This book is beautifully and thoughtfully compiled, with an authentic collection of recipes representing all of the Scandinavian countries, accompanied by lovely photographs by Joel Butkowski. The recipes in the book are clear, concise and approachable, splendidly representative of Scandinavian cuisine, which is typically unpretentious and uncomplicated. Many of the recipes are supplemented with side bars packed with informative tidbits on Scandinavian culture with tantalizing photos of landmarks and people, elevating this compact book to the cocktail table.


Swedish Apple Pie, simple and pleasing. Luckily I snapped a picture before the family devoured it.

Last weekend we ticked a couple of recipes off of our long list. Since my daughter was helping, she chose to make Desert Sand Cookies and Swedish Apple Pie. As we baked, we chatted about Denmark. We spoke of family, friends and places we look forward to visiting on our next trip.  We spoke of holidays and some of our favorite foods. I thought of the traditions that are passed down through generations through recipes, and how these recipes keep memories alive while connecting us as a family. In our well traveled family life this has been exceptionally important, as we mindfully strive to remember our roots and the different countries in which we’ve lived.  Now we have a little extra help from Scandinavian Classic Baking.

Desert Sand Cookies
adapted from Scandinavian Classic Baking by Pat Sinclair

The key to these simple butter cookies is the browning of the butter, which gives them their unique and delicious flavor, typically found in Danish Butter Cookies.

Makes 24 (1 1/2-inch) cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brown the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the butter begins to foam, stir constantly until it turns a deep golden brown. Watch it carefully at this point, because the color will change quickly. Cool to room temperature.
Heat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add the cooled butter and vanilla to the sugar in a medium bowl and stir until evenly mixed Add the flour and mix to form a dough. Shape the dough into 1 1/2 inch rounds. Place on baking sheet and press a crisscross pattern with a fork. (Dip the tines of the fork in a little flour if it sticks.) Bake 10-12 minutes or until set; they will not brown very much in the oven. Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies are fragile until cool.

Lemon Bars

Citrus is winter’s gift, so why not put this gift to use and make lemon bars? Bright and zingy, Lemon Bars will bring a ray of sunshine into your kitchen. Whether you are knee deep in snow or lucky enough to live where lemons grow on trees, this is one pick-me-up everyone will enjoy at this time of year. Cool creamy custard bursting with zest rests on a firm bed of shortbread. Each bite is a balance of sweet and tart. The recipe is simple and quick to make – the only caveat is that the results are dangerously addictive. Be forewarned: One will never be enough.

Lemon Bars with Sea Salt

This recipe is adapted from and inspired by many sources, including Ina Garten, Food52,  and my personal weakness for sea salt. Makes 32 (2-inch) square bars.

Shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cool, cut into cubes

Filling:
6 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking pan, then line the pan with parchment and butter the parchment.
2. Combine the shortbread 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.
3. Bake the crust until it just begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, but do not turn off the oven heat.
4. Whisk the filling ingredients together in a large bowl until blended, then 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.
5. Cut into bars. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and lightly sprinkle with sea salt flakes before serving.

Russian Teacake Cookies

Russian Teacake Cookies


Russian Teacake Cookies

Is it December yet?

Thanksgiving is over, and for the last 5 days of November, all I have thought about is Christmas. December is here at last, and it’s time to unabashedly release all that penned up yuletide energy. Parties are being planned, recipes are flying about, pumpkins are switching out with holly, and any lingering scents of spice are preparing to mingle with our next aromatic houseguest, the Christmas tree.

I love this window of time when we anticipate and prepare, while we have a moment to appreciate the singular pleasures of the season – a walk in the woods, a cup of gløgg, crafting a wreath. I remain mindful of this enjoyment, because I know that all too soon holiday pandemonium will break loose.  Steady preparations will accelerate into a flurry of activity, a whirlwind of guests and a smorgasbord of food.  Now, I bask in the expanse of time. And I bake cookies.

Russian Teacake Cookies (also known as Sandies and Mexican Wedding Cookies) are a favorite holiday cookie in our home. If we are baking them, it means that Christmas is just around the corner. They are uncomplicated and appealing to kids of all ages, including us. The batter is egg free, encouraging lots of tasting, and the final touch requires a good roll in powder sugar, resulting in a snowy round cookie that resembles a snowman’s mid-section. And, of course, they are finger-licking good. We bake a batch of these each week leading up to the holiday, in part because they are so easy to make, but mostly because they never last long in our home.

Russian Teacake Cookies a.k.a. Sandies
adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book

Makes about 36.

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped toasted almonds
Additional confectioner’s sugar for rolling

Mix butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer until lightened in color and fluffy, 3 minutes.  Mix in vanilla. Stir flour and salt together in a medium bowl.  Add flour to butter and mix to combine.  Stir in nuts.  Chill dough at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400 F. (200 C.) Roll dough in 1 inch balls.  Place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake until firm, but not brown, 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.  Roll in additional confectioner’s sugar.  Place on tray and cool completely. Roll in sugar again.