Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mexican Chocolate Wedding Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange

Mexican chocolate has cinnamon in it and so do these cookies, hence the name. Traditional Mexican wedding cookies don’t have either, but that doesn’t stop these from being light and delicious, if not authentic. 

I adapted this chocolate version from the traditional recipe at Mexico in My Kitchen.

The month our Creative Cookie Exchange group is planning ahead for Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that celebrates Mexican heritage and culture with food, drink and dancing, in short, with fiestas. I decided to take a favorite cookie for weddings in Mexico and mix it up a bit, adding chocolate and tossing it in powdered sugar and cocoa. Turns out chocolate wedding cookies weren’t my idea first but that’s okay. I felt creative for a little while till I found out.

Note to future self: When big, bright idea strikes, stop researching. 

Ingredients for 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on how big you roll them
For the cookie dough:
3/4 cup or 170g butter, softened
1/3 cup or 40g powdered or confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups or 220g all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup 225g ground pecans
1/2 cup or 100g semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch salt

For the coating:
1/2 cup or 65g powdered or confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup or 25g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Method
Blitz your chocolate chips in a food processor until they are ground into little bits.



With electric beaters or in a stand mixer, cream the butter and the powdered sugar together until the butter turns pale and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add in the vanilla and then beat again.



In another bowl, mix together the other (dry) dough ingredients.


Add the dry mixture to the fluffy butter one cup at a time, beating well in between, until it’s all mixed in and you have a nice stiff dough.



Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for an hour in the refrigerator or 30 minutes in the freezer.

It's lovely and speckled!


Meanwhile, combine your coating ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

I gave them a solid whisking to mix them together and break up any lumps. 

When you are ready to start baking, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Cut off small pieces of the dough and roll them into balls about an inch or 2 1/2cm wide.




Put them on a ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes.


Cool for a couple of minutes and then, very carefully, transfer the cookies to a wire rack. If you squeeze too hard, the cookies might crumble, as you can see.



While the cookies are still warm, roll them in the coating.



Enjoy!



If you would like to join the fun and bake with the Creative Cookie Exchange, just contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.


You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Facebook page, our Pinterest Board, and our monthly posts which are published the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! 

If you are looking for Cinco de Mayo inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made this month:

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Cheesy Corn Taco Muffins for #MuffinMonday


These cheesy muffins made with spicy canned tomatoes and cornmeal turn leftover ground beef seasoned with taco spices into a great breakfast or brunch option. 

Last weekend was a get-‘er-done sort of weekend. We ran errands and crossed to-dos off the list that had been languishing there for ages, some since we had moved into this home more than 16 months ago! I am delighted to say that now I have a little table set up in the study on which to take my food photographs without having to rearrange the dining room each time. Among other things. On day two of the weekend – that would be Saturday here – a song came on that reminded my dear husband of one of our favorite restaurants in Houston. “Let’s go to El Jardín for dinner!” he says. “You are a cruel, cruel man,” I responded. What we wouldn’t give to be able to eat at El Jardín anytime! When my elder sister first started working in Houston, using her relatively freshly earned law degree, her office was just down the road from what would become our favorite Mexican restaurant, in a part of town that is not the most upscale, if you know what I mean. But the margaritas are inexpensive before evening dinner service and the food is deliciously prepared and served with a smile. The décor is cheerful, with brightly painted wooden chairs with straw-covered seats, colorful tile-topped tables and lots of tissue paper flowers and banners of papel picado, those decoratively snipped Mexican folk art tissue squares. Even when we are in Houston, El Jardín is a hike from our home but we make a point of going there whenever we get the chance. So, the short end to this long story is that we had to have Mexican food for the dinner that night. Had to. That’s all. It wasn’t El Jardín but tacos with fixings were the best I could do on short notice, after two long days of getting ‘er done.

When you brown more than 500g (1.1 lb) of ground beef for tacos and you have only two people for dinner, you are going to have leftovers. These muffins are the perfect use for the leftover meat, extending your Mexican meal through breakfast or brunch or even lunch the next day.  Next time, make extra, just so you can make these muffins. You won’t be sorry.

Ingredients
1 cup or 150g fine yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup or 65g flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup or 225g sour cream
1 1/4 cups or 10 oz or 280g Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chilies
2 eggs
1/2 cup or 120ml canola or other light oil
7 oz or 200g (about 1 1/2 cups) leftover seasoned ground beef for tacos
8 oz or 225g extra sharp cheddar or half cheddar and half Monterrey Jack cheese

Method
Preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C and grease your muffin pan liberally with non-stick spray or butter.

Grate your cheese, if not already grated. Put a handful or so aside to top the muffins before baking.

Measure your cornmeal, flour, salt, baking soda and grated cheddar into a large mixing bowl and mix well.



Measure the cream and oil into a small mixing bowl. Add the eggs and the can of Ro-Tel tomatoes –juice and all. Whisk to combine.



Fold your wet ingredients into your dry ones until just mixed.



Set a little of the seasoned ground beef aside for topping the muffins before baking and fold the rest into the batter.


Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups.



Sprinkle the top with the reserved cheese and beef.



Bake for 20-25 minutes or until you can see that the sides are turning golden brown.



Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Remove from the pan, loosening gently with a knife if necessary, and cool further on a wire rack.



Enjoy!




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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Passover Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars #SundaySupper

These delicious cookie bars are so simple to make – just four ingredients - and are perfect as a snack or sweet treat during Passover when wheat flour and leavening agents are on the prohibited list. Or anytime of the year! 

This week Sunday Supper is celebrating with recipes for Passover and Easter. Since I already posted two Easter treats last week, I decided to step out of my comfort zone, do a little research and find a recipe that would be welcome at a Passover feast. The restrictions seem to be the same as keeping kosher, with the added prohibition of wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt flours. Almond flour, on the other hand, is just fine, not to mention nutty and delicious. I found this recipe on KosherEye.com, a great resource for kosher recipes and general advice. I wasn't about to start substituting or adapting in case I unwittingly messed up its Passover-friendly status!

Ingredients
2 cups or 200g ground almonds
1 cup, well-packed, or 200g dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup or about 190g semi sweet chocolate chips, plus about 1/8 cup or 30g extra for topping

Method
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and grease your pan (9x9in or 23x23cm) or line it with parchment paper.  I almost always choose the parchment paper option because the cookie bars lift out so easily which makes cutting them a breeze.

Mix all of the ingredients together until they form a thick dough. You can do this by hand but it takes some arm power to get them to a good dough stage, so I used my stand mixer and just let that baby run on medium speed for a couple of minutes.


Spread the dough out in your prepared pan, making sure to fill in the corners.

It's a pretty stiff dough. 
Sprinkle the top with the extra chocolate chips.



Bake in your preheated oven for 23-28 minutes or until the edges and top are a light golden color. I was amazed by how tender and chewy these turned out. The original recipe called them miracle bars and I have to agree! They are absolutely wonderful not just for Passover, but any time of the year.


Let the cookie bars cool for a few minutes and then cut them into squares.



Enjoy!



If you are looking for Easter and Passover meal inspiration, check out these great links from my fellow Sunday Supper friends. This week our host is the lovely Alaiyo of Pescetarian Journal.

Breakfast/Brunch
Appetizers:
Savory and Sweet Breads:
Sides and Salads:
Main Dishes:
Desserts:


Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 p.m. ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.


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