Monthly Archives: December 2009

Chocolate chocolate chip cookies

[Chocolate] Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I posted a plea on Facebook early last week.

I begged all of my facebook friends for cookie recipes.  I needed fuel for my cookie party fire.  My sister receives credit for this fabulous recipe.  I can honestly call these the very best chocolate chip cookies that I’ve ever had.

They are very gooey on the inside, with a slightly crispy exterior, and chewy edges.

In other words, chocolate chip cookie heaven–everything that your girl loves in a cookie.

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A tower of terror, chocolate-style.

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Here’s the recipe.  They’re super simple, so you should make them now!

Jessica’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt… See More
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350. Heat chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl in 20 second increments, stirring between each, until almost melted; do not over heat. Remove; stir until melted and smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

With an electric mixer, beat eggs, brown sugar and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in chocolate mixture. Mix in dry ingredients just until combined. Fold in chocolate chunks.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets 2 to 3 inches apart. Bake, rotating sheets halfway thru, until cookies are shiny and crackly, yet still soft in center, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes; with a thin metal spatula transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Yum!

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Mexican Wedding Cakes/Russian Tea Cakes

The absence of any egg-related ingredients, in addition to the use of powdered rather than granulated sugar, makes these a completely different consistency than any other cookie I’ve ever had. They’re a little more delicate than your average cookie, but flavorful enough to hold their own.

Another great (hidden) benefit is that they can be completely vegan if you substitute the butter for Earth Balance, which is what I did. I love the buttery flavor that Earth Balance adds, with none of the animal byproducts.

Although the recipe calls for pecans or almonds, in the past, I have been known to split the dough into 5 or 6 different bowls, and put different additions into each bit of dough. Some of them will have nuts, some will have candied ginger, dried fruit, or even chocolate chips. No matter what you add, it’s always delicious.

Well…I’m sure there are some exceptions to that rule, but let’s not explore that.

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Here’s the recipe:

Mexican Wedding Cakes
(Makes about 48)

1/2 C powdered sugar
1 C butter (or Earth Balance), softened
2 t vanilla
2 C all-purpose flour
1 C finely chopped almonds or pecans
1/4 t salt
Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cut powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Blend well.
3. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
4. Shape into 1-inch balls and place 1″ apart on un-greased cookie sheets.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until set but not brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets.
6. Cool slightly, then roll in powdered sugar (or place powdered sugar into a Ziploc bag and shake 2-3 cookies at a time in the sugar).
7. Cool completely and re-roll in powdered sugar.

Just a word of caution: When eating these cookies, do not inhale deeply just before taking a bite. You will most definitely inhale powdered sugar, and if you’re anything like me, it will induce a 10 minute coughing fit. It’s just not fun.

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almond paste cookies

Almond Paste Cookies [Must Be Eaten]

The same friend who loves me enough to give me the recipe for Marzipan-laced Stollen also loves me enough give me the recipe for her Almond Paste Cookies.

This is a friend, indeed.

Almond paste cookies are the thing that dreams are made of. After my horrendous Baltimore Marathon experience, I went to a bakery near our hotel and immediately purchased 3 almond paste cookies (in addition to a few other things). The goal was to drown my pain in almond paste. I don’t know if they took the pain away, but it was fun trying.

The almond paste cookies in my girl’s recipe are different than the ones I got at Vaccarro’s that day, but I would venture to say that they taste better!

And I even forgot to add the slivered almonds on the top.

They’re still amazing.

This is my first time making almond paste cookies, so there was a little trial and error involved (and forgotten almond slivers). I found it interesting that the first batch of cookies that went in the oven came out pretty flat, and they were also very difficult to get off of the cookie sheet. After re-reading the recipe, I realized that I was supposed to line the cookie sheet with foil.

Uh. Duh.

(The first batch is on the right).

While the first batch baked, I left the remaining batter on the counter, and didn’t add the second batch of cookies to the  sheet until after it had completely cooled. I’m not sure if it was because the dough had some time to rest, or if it cooled down some after all of the mixing, but the second batch was notably fluffier.

I also baked them for the exact same time, and used the exact same amount of dough (I use a mini ice-cream scoop), but the cookies were more golden brown the second time around.  In any case, it was good because they looked more like a traditional almond paste cookie.

Unfortunately, there was only enough dough to make 4 of them. And I ate one.

So, after I can actually leave my house (we’ve had 5,000 inches of snow in less than 24 hours), I plan to buy more almond paste and try these again. They are so so good!

The first batch is in the back, and the second is in the front…

Next time, I’ll let the dough rest in the fridge before I start making them, and I’ll also use a silicone mat on the cookie sheet.

Then, hopefully they’ll all look like this…

Yum!

Here’s the recipe!

Chana’s Almond Paste Cookies

1/2 pound almond paste
2 egg whites
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C confectioners sugar
1/4 C flour (I used 1/3 C because my dough was WAY too sticky)
pinch of salt
2 OZ almond slivers

1. Combine both sugars, flour & salt, and set aside.

2. Mix almond paste and eggs with hands. Do not over mix.

3. Add dry ingredients and mix well (with spoon).

4. Roll into one inch balls. Roll tops in almonds.

5. Place on foil-lined cookie sheet.

6. Bake at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

If you are able to not eat all of these at one time, please do tell me how!

What is your favorite Christmas cookie??

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Christmas Stolen

Eat It Like It’s Stollen.

I don’t think that I’ve properly emphasized this fact yet on the blog, but I love anything that has the word “almond” in it.

Almond paste.

Almond extract.

Almonds.

I love coconut macaroons because they taste like almonds. I could very easily leave out the coconut and be just as happy.

And, speaking of almonds, Rachel had a great idea a couple of weeks ago. Her great idea involved the purchase of a vintage-inspired apron from BoojiBoo. And, this actually has nothing at all to do with almonds, but I want to show you my adorable apron.


And, this is me. Today. In the midst of baking Almond Paste Cookies. Wearing ratty old gym shorts. And tennis shoes. And no makeup.

But my apron is damn cute.

It actually looks a little scandalous from this angle, but I swear that I was totally wearing pants.

Right, so speaking of almonds.

Today, I made a German Christmas bread called Stollen. This was my first experience with Stollen, and the recipe was suggested to me by one of the three people that I still talk to from high school, and she happens to know of my love for all things marzipan.

The process was a little longer than I had originally anticipated, but it turns out that I love stollen!

My only gripe with stollen was that the marzipan was not located in every bite. I know, that’s greedy and gluttonous, but I don’t get the stuff very often, and when I do, I want it to be pure indulgence. Next time, I’ll cut the marzipan into several ropes instead of just one rope, and then place them throughout the loaf.

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So here’s the recipe…

German Christmas Stollen
(Based on a recipe from allrecipes.com)

1 T active dry yeast
2/3 C warm milk
1 large egg
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 T salt
1/3 C butter, softened
2 1/2 C bread flour
1/3 C raisins
1/3 C currants (I didn’t use because I don’t like)
1/3 C red candied cherries, quartered (I didn’t use because I don’t have any)
2/3 C diced candied citron (again, couldn’t find it)
6 OZ marzipan or almond paste
1T confectioners’ sugar
1t ground cinnamon

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the egg, white sugar, salt, butter, and 2 cups of bread flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.

3. When the dough has begun to pull together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead in the currants, raisins, dried cherries, and citrus peel. Continue kneading until smooth, about 8 minutes.

4. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

5. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the marzipan into a rope and place it in the center of the dough. Fold the dough over to cover it; pinch the seams together to seal.

6. Place the loaf, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 50 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

8. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 degrees F, and bake for a further 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow loaf to cool on a wire rack.

9. After completely cooled, dust the loaf with confectioners’ sugar, and sprinkle with the cinnamon.

10. Eat this once per hour, on the hour, for the entire time you’re snowed in (optional).

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