Showing posts with label chocolate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chocolate. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Yin Yang Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange


Fudgy dark cookie on one side with chewy oatmeal cookie on the other side, these two halves complete or more importantly, complement each other. 

This month’s Creative Cookie Exchange theme is love and hearts which started me thinking about what love really is, I mean, beyond the heady first rush and tumble of quick emotions, all the highs and lows that are often the hallmarks of young relationships. I’m talking about the comfortable love that settles in, where you can complete each other’s sentences and anticipate each other’s needs, and still thoroughly enjoy spending time together, laughing, traveling, playing. And that brought to mind yin and yang, the Taoist concept of two halves that together complete wholeness.

I’m not sure that’s something two people can ever truly accomplish, but let me just put it out there that this year, in just a couple of short months, my husband and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage and 32 years of laughing, traveling and playing together. Of raising babies to young women of whom we are most proud, moving about the planet making homes in six of the seven continents and sharing the joy of life with friends and family too numerous to count. We have been so blessed.

Since we are both flawed human beings (Ain't nobody perfect folks!) still growing and learning about each other and life, I will never complete him and he may never complete me. After this many years of experience, I believe that complementing each other seems a much more worthwhile goal anyway. Together, we make a pretty solid team. Just like these cookies. These aren’t traditional cookies for Valentine’s Day but bake them for someone you love anyway.

And just because everyone's thinking it anyway, this scene:



Note: Start early in the day to allow chilling time for the two doughs.

Ingredients for about 3 dozen cookies
For the yin:
1/2 cup, firmly packed, or 100g brown sugar
3/4 cup or 150g granulated sugar
1/3 cup or 75g butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup or 125g flour
3/4 cup or 75g unsweetened extra dark cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the yang:
1 cup or 200g granulated sugar
1/2 cup or 115g butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups or 156g flour
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup or 95g uncooked quick rolled oats

To decorate: handful each white and semi-sweet chocolate chips
Useful tool: 5 in or 13cm length of stiff wire for marking where to cut the cookie dough

Method
For the yin dough:
Cream your butter with the two sugars.

Add in the egg and vanilla extract and beat again.



Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the mixing bowl. Mix well until thoroughly combined.



Roll into a thick log about 2 inches or 5cm in diameter and cover tightly with cling film. Put the dough log in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.



For the yang dough:
Cream your butter with the sugar.

Add in the egg and vanilla extract and beat again.



Sift in your flour, baking powder and salt and mix well.

Add in the oats and keep mixing until thoroughly combined.



Roll into a thick log about 2 inches or 5cm in diameter and cover tightly with cling film. Put the dough log in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.

Try to get your logs the same approximate size


While the dough is chilling, bend your wire around the neck of a bottle, first one way and then the other, to make a tool the approximate outline of the division between the yin and yang.


Once the dough is well chilled, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C. Prepare your cookie sheet by greasing it with non-stick spray or lining it with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Putting the two together 
Slice your two cookie dough logs into even slices. Use your wire tool to press down on the slices to mark where to cut them into two. You can, of course, do this free hand. But the pieces might not match up as neatly.

Use the tip of a sharp knife to cut each slice apart. Fit them back together, one half light, the other half dark, pressing gently to make them one on the prepared cookie sheet.



Decorate each with one white and one dark chocolate chip.



Bake in your preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes or until just done for chewy cookies.



Leave to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.


Enjoy!



These would also be pretty cool for Chinese New Year, another holiday coming upon us shortly. Many thanks to Deepti of Bakingyummies for handling the hosting responsibilities this month!

Check out all the other interpretations of love and hearts from my fellow Creative Cookie Exchange bakers this month.


We get together once a month to bake cookies with a common theme or ingredient so Creative Cookie Exchange is a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts at The Spiced Life). We post the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!


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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Chocolate Praline Pretzels #ChristmasWeek #Giveaway

The perfect mix of sweet and salty, these chocolate-covered pretzels are dipped in crunchy pecan praline. They make a great hostess gift or holiday party treat. 

Welcome to Day 6 - the FINAL DAY of fabulous Christmas Week. This annual event was started in 2012, and is hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic. This year we have 36 bloggers sharing festive sweet recipes for the event. Plus we all chipped in for a huge Amazon Gift Card Giveaway (Three prizes: $500, $250 and $50!) so be sure you scroll on down to the bottom to enter!

And since it's the last day, I've got to give a bit shout out to Kim for all her hard work organizing this week of treats and sweets and for shepherding 36 bloggers in various time zones! It was a challenging and magnificent feat. Hats off, my friend, hats off!

Adapted from this recipe from My Recipes.

Ingredients
Butter for greasing pan
1 1/2 cups or 165g chopped pecans
1/4 cup, firmly packed, or 50g light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream
7 oz or 200g semisweet chocolate bars (I used two Lindt bars.)
Butter for greasing baking pan
55-65 pretzel sticks

Method
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and butter a 9 in or 23cm round cake pan.

Stir together your chopped pecans, brown sugar, salt and cream. Spread the mixture out evenly in the pan.



Bake for 10 minutes then take the pan out and stir the mixture.

Spread it out again and bake an addition 10-15 minutes or until sugar is slightly crystallized.

Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn the praline out onto a cutting board. Allow to cool completely and then chop finely with a sharp knife.



Spread the praline bits out on waxed paper or baking parchment.

Place your chocolate in a microwave-safe measuring cup and microwave on high for 15 seconds at a time, stirring well in between time, until just melted. You don’t want the chocolate super hot or it will be too runny.

Dip your pretzels in the chocolate.


Then lay them on the praline bits.


Cover with more praline bits.

See the pretzel sticking out? The chocolate part should be completely covered.


Wait about 10-15 seconds till the praline bits are stuck on, tapping down gently on the pile.

Remove the covered pretzels to a lined tray to harden up. You may find as you go on that the smaller bits of praline stick first so you are left with bigger pieces in your pile. Use a knife to chop them more finely, if necessary.

The work station. Not pictured: A Charlie Brown Christmas showing on my laptop.
This job takes a while but requires little brain. 

Continue until you run out of praline bits or chocolate or pretzels. I ran out of praline bits first this time, and made more than 5 dozen chocolate praline pretzels.

The pile gets tiny. 


Now box these babies up and share them with a neighbor or friend!



Enjoy!
Recipes from Day 6 of Christmas Week! Please visit all our talented participants:


You must be 18 or older and a resident of the United States or Canada to enter.



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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies #ChristmasWeek #Giveaway


Peppermint dough and mint chocolate swirls or peppermint glaze - or both! - make these pretty pinwheel cookies perfect for your Christmas table or cookie exchange.

Welcome to Day 4 of Christmas Week. This annual event was started in 2012, and is hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic. This year we have 36 bloggers sharing festive sweet recipes for the event. Plus we all chipped in for a huge Amazon Gift Card Giveaway so be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post to enter!

It wouldn't be Christmas Week without some Christmas cookies, right? And peppermint is an essential Christmas flavoring so I decided to put those two things together!

Note: Like any cookie dough that needs to be rolled out before cutting, the process will be easier if your dough has time to chill in the refrigerator. Plan on at least an hour of chilling time before rolling it out and four hours in the freezer before baking. Or make the dough a day or two before you plan to bake. It will keep beautifully, well-wrapped in cling film in your freezer.

These peppermint pinwheel cookies are adapted from this filled cookie recipe on My Recipes.

Ingredients for about 5 dozen cookies
For the dough:
1/2 cup or 113g butter, softened
1 cup or 200g sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups or 220g flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring paste for red half (I use Wilton no taste red.)
1/2 teaspoon mint extract for white half

For the peppermint glaze:
1/2 cup or 65g powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
Pinch salt

For the mint chocolate drizzle:
1 3/4 oz or 50g mint dark chocolate bar (I used half a Lindt bar.)

Method
Cream the butter and sugar together with your electric mixer, beating until light and fluffy.

Scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula then add the egg and vanilla, beating until blended, scraping bowl again as needed.



In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating at a low speed until blended.

Set aside half of the dough. (Mine weighed 598g so I took out 299g. Scale users unite!)

Knead food coloring paste into remaining portion of dough while wearing rubber gloves or, if you are so fortunate, use the K-beater in your stand mixer to combine the two. Cover the dough with cling film and chill for at least one hour.



Knead the mint extract into the other half of the dough, or once again, use your stand mixer to combine the two. Cover the dough with cling film and chill for at least one hour.



Once chilled, roll each half into a 12- x 8-inch or 31x20cm rectangle between two pieces of baking parchment or waxed paper. Check out this great video from Crazy For Crust, to see how to do it. Just stop before you start cutting out cookies.




Once you have them rolled out, trim the rounded edges and neaten up your rectangles with a sharp knife.



Put the parchment or wax paper back on top and use your rolling pin and very little pressure to stick those pieces to the bigger piece again.

Peel one side of the parchment or wax paper off of each rectangle and lay one rectangle of dough on top of the other and press down gently so they stick together. Peel the paper off the top. Save the parchment paper because you can use it again for baking on.

Cut the double rectangle in half lengthwise to create two long equal rectangles.



I decided to roll one half up with the peppermint dough on the inside and one with the red dough on the inside, so I flipped one over, but you can make them all one way or the other.

Use a piece of the parchment or some cling wrap to help you roll the two dough rectangles up tightly, from the long end, so you end up with two long skinny tubes.



Wrap these again in parchment or cling film and freeze for several hours.

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare a couple of cookie sheets by lining them with baking parchment or silicone mats.

Cut the ends off of one log, leaving the other in the freezer, then slice the log into circles.



Place them on the prepared cookie sheets with a couple of inches or at least five centimeters between them. As you will see, mine were too close so many of them spread out enough to join together.



Bake for 7-8 minutes or until puffed and set.


Cool cookies on baking sheets for several minutes and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Repeat with the other dough log until all the cookies are baked and cooled.

Mix up the glaze ingredients and set aside. When you are ready to decorate, put the glaze in a plastic bag and cut off a very small corner so you can pipe the glaze onto the cookies.

Or melt the mint chocolate in a microwaveable vessel, 15-second zaps at a time, stirring well between each zap. Use a piping bag to drizzle on the chocolate. You can use a plastic bag for the chocolate as well but I find the proper piping bags are easier to handle with warm chocolate.



Enjoy!



Recipes from Day 4 of Christmas Week! Please visit all our talented participants!




You must be 18 or older and a resident of the United States or Canada to enter.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange

Peanut butter and pumpkin combine beautifully for cake-y cookies chock full of chocolate chips or M&Ms. Great for parties and snacks this time of year!

I may have mentioned once or a thousand times before but I am not much of a sweet eater. Give me a large link of smoked sausage over a sweet slice of chocolate cake any day. New friends, that is ones I've made in the last four years since I started blogging, are always shocked by this revelation because I bake so much. I love to bake, it’s true! I just give it all away, mostly. When you consider the expensive hobbies some people enjoy, like collecting antiques, horseback riding or racing yachts – even quilting, have you priced quality fabric lately?! - this is relatively cheap. Some eggs, butter, flour, flavorings. I love the creative process of baking, plus there’s the added bonus of feeling benevolent when I give treats away. If you are looking for a hobby, this is a good one!

M&Ms vs Chocolate Chips
I’ve got another confession to make about these cookies in particular. I’ve discovered that I am not a fan of the seasonal M&Ms. I thought they would taste the same as other M&Ms but they really don’t. I think they are sweeter. (See paragraph 1.) The colors are great but next time I make these cookies, I’m going to stick to semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips, the only chocolate I actually like. If you like the seasonal ones, by all means, carry on. The cookies themselves were fluffy and cake-y and soft. And not overly sweet when I ate around the M&Ms. Yes, I did that thing.

Many thanks to Laura from The Spiced Life for organizing our Creative Cookie Exchange group and choosing this month’s theme: Celebrate the Pumpkin. Thanks also to Renee from Magnolia Days for putting together our link list of 12 pumpkin related cookies. Make sure you scroll down to check them out at the bottom of my post.

This recipe was adapted from one on the Bob’s Red Mill site.

Ingredients
1/4 cup or 65g crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup or 60g unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup, firmly packed, or 100g brown sugar
1/4 cup or 50g sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup or 125g flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup or 195g canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 1/4 cups or 113g 5-minute oats
3/4 cup or 150g M&Ms (or sub chocolate chips – see paragraph 2 above) plus a handful extra for decorating (optional)

Method
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your baking sheet by lining it with parchment or a silicone baking mat.

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the peanut butter, butter and sugars together until fluffy.

Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add in your egg and vanilla and beat again.



Add in the pumpkin and beat again until combined.



Sift the flour, soda and salt directly into the same bowl. Beat again.



Finally, add the oats and M&Ms and stir well or use your beaters on a very slow speed to combine. You don’t want to break up the M&Ms.



Use a scoop or a spoon to drop balls of cookie dough onto your prepared cookie sheet.

Poke a few more M&Ms on the top of each for decoration, if desired.



Bake in your preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until just browned. These cookies should be chewy and slightly under- rather than over-baked, if you are going to err on one side or the other. They turn out soft and cake-y and no one likes dry cake.

Allow to cool for a few minutes on the pan then remove the cookies and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.



Repeat the scooping/baking process until all the cookies are done. This makes about 2 dozen, depending on the size of your scoop. Mine is 2 tablespoons or 30ml and I got 27 cookies.


Enjoy!




Need a great resource for cookie recipes? Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them at The Spiced Life), on the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!


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