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Day 10 of Bakers Dozen: Chewy Ginger Snaps

We’ve made it to the home stretch! Can you believe Christmas is less than a week away? This time of year always flies by. I’m almost done with my holiday shopping, just have a few last minute items to pick up and the last of my mailings went out today. Now it is time to just kick back and relax a bit!

Gingersnaps are probably one of the most recognized holiday cookies. I’d always preferred sugar cookies over ginger cookies but I may have been persuaded with this recipe. The perfect amount of fresh ginger, chewy (not a fan of crunchy), and well, I think they look pretty. I think Santa agrees!

This recipe came from Alton Brown, Good Eats 3. It’s a really amazing book and would make a great gift for a foodie. And Amazon is selling it at half the price I paid for it. We were lucky enough to meet Alton at one of his book signings this past fall, but you had to buy the book from the store to get a ticket. Which of course meant buying it at full price. It’s a steal at $18! I also got the Sugarplums recipe out of this book. And the marshmallows. Can’t say I don’t use my cookbooks, right?

These cookies are easy, which is how Cookies for Santa should be. You don’t want the added stress of complicated cookies this time of year. Chopping the ginger was the most time consuming part. I omitted the candied ginger because I knew that would be too much ginger for my taste buds, but added extra fresh ginger, 4 tsp instead of 2 tsp.  And the fresh ginger makes a huge difference. Don’t omit that. It takes the cookie to a whole new level.

I used a tablespoon scoop and baked the cookies for 12 minutes to get them perfectly chewy. If you prefer a crisper cookie, just bake longer, about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Ginger Snaps

Adapted from Alton Brown

Yield: about 30 cookies

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 9 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 7 ounces dark brown sugar (just under 1 cup)
  • 5 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick + 1 tsp)
  • 3 ounces molasses, by weight (1/4 cup)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 4 ounces finely chopped candied ginger (optional – if you add candied ginger reduce fresh ginger to 2 tsp)
  • coarse sugar for sprinkling on cookies (optional)

Note: I’ve provided conversions in case you don’t have a scale, but I can’t vouch for the accuracy.

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cardamom, clove and salt.

3. Place the brown sugar and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed until light and fluffy,3 minutes. Scrape the bowl. Add the molasses, egg and fresh ginger and beat on medium for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger, if using, and using a rubber spatula, stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix with paddle until well combined.

4. Using a 1 TB cookie scoop, drop the dough onto a parchment lined half sheet pan approximately 2-inches apart. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 12 minutes for slightly chewy cookies or 15 minutes for more crisp cookies. Rotate the pan halfway through cooking.

5. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to stay on the sheet pan for 30 seconds before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with all of the dough. Store in an airtight container for up 10 days (trust me, they won’t last that long!). If desired, you may scoop and freeze the cookie dough on a sheet pan and once frozen, place in a resealable bag to store. Bake directly from the freezer as above.

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Day 7 of Bakers Dozen: Peppermint Meringues

If you’ve seen the cover of Bon Appetit this month, you’ve seen the beautiful peppermint meringues with the red background. It drew me in immediately! So festive! I had to mimic the red on red for the pictures.

Meringues have never been a favorite cookie of mine, mostly because in the past I’d only had store bought ones that were sickeningly sweet. These are sweet, but not quite the diabetic coma sweet of store bought versions. And much tastier with a beautiful airy yet crunchy texture.

These cookies aren’t quite as easy as the past few posts, but they certainly aren’t hard either. Meringue can be intimidating. Mine even turned out a little runnier than they should have been, but they still turned out great. I’m not sure what happened, honestly. I had perfect peaks and then when I added the powdered sugar as directed, it got runny. But they still piped fine and baked up without any issues.

Peppermint Meringues

From Bon Appetit

Yield: About 60 small cookies

Difficulty: Easy to Medium

Prep time: About 30 minutes hands on, 2 1/2 hours to bake

Ingredients

  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 12 drops red food coloring

1. Get all your gear ready before you start. Place a 1/2 inch tip in a pastry bag (or use a plastic bag), and have your food coloring and peppermint extract ready, as well as your sugars. Make sure your egg whites are room temperature – very important! Since it is cold most places right now, this may take a couple of hours. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silipat.

2. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until white and foamy, about 1 minute. With mixer running, gradually add sugar in 3 additions beating for 2 minutes between each addition. Beat until firm peaks form, about 2 minutes longer. Add powdered sugar and peppermint extract; beat to blend, about 1 minute.

3. Dot coloring over surface of meringue; do not stir (the coloring will form swirls when piped). Spoon meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2″ tip. If using a plastic bag, cut corner after adding meringue to bag. Twist top; pipe 1″ rounds onto prepared sheet, spacing 1″ apart. They will not spread so they can be close together.

4. Bake meringues until dry, about 2 1/2 hours. Let cool completely, about 1 hour (meringues will crisp as they cool). These will only keep a couple of days. Store in an airtight container with parchment between layers to keep from sticking.

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Monster Cookies

The name of these cookies could mean several things. They could be called “monster” because traditionally they are large. Very large. They could be called monster because they have a little bit of everything in them (oats, peanut butter, chocolate chips, just to name a few). Or they could be called monster because of the sheer number of calories, which we will chose to ignore. Whatever the reason, they rock.


I’m from the midwest and these cookies are something I remember from my childhood. They were always obnoxiously large and they were always delicious. My dear hubby, who grew up on both the West and East Coast, had never heard of them before.

*gasp*

So when my BFF  mentioned she was making monster cookies, I had a craving for them and I had to enlighten my hubby to this treat. It had been years since I enjoyed one. And they tasted just like I remembered. Happiness!

They are incredibly easy to make. You might spend a few extra minutes gathering up your entire pantry, but hey, it’s worth it.

And because Halloween is right around the corner, what is more appropriate than monster cookies? They are a nice change from chocolate chip cookies, without feeling that you are cheating on said cookie.

Monster Cookies

Courtesy of my BFF

Full Recipe – Makes several dozen
  • 9 cups oats (old fashioned oats, not quick cooking)
  • 2 TB baking soda
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2.5 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 TB vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 TB corn syrup
  • 28 oz peanut butter
  • 12 oz M&Ms
  • 12 oz chocolate chips

Half Batch – Still makes quite a bit

  • 4 1/2 cups oats (old fashioned oats, not quick cooking)
  • 1 TB baking soda
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp corn syrup
  • 14 oz peanut butter
  • 6 oz M&Ms
  • 6 oz chocolate chips
*Note: there is no flour in these cookies.
1) Preheat oven to 350F.
2) Mix oats and baking soda in separate bowl. Set aside.
2) Cream butter, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping bowl after each addition.
3) Add  corn syrup and peanut butter, scraping the bowl.
4) Add oat mixture, mix until blended.
5) Add chocolate chips and M&Ms. You can add them in the mixer, but they might break. Fold them in if you don’t want them to break.
6) Use whatever size scoop works best for you.
7) Bake time will vary depending on the size of the cookie. You want to get these a little more done so they stay together. Bake until golden is a good rule. The larger cookie took about 20 minutes. The slightly smaller ones (3 TB scoop) took about 13 minutes. Do a test batch with just a couple cookies first to check the bake time.
Let cool. Eat.
I baked two at monster size. Only two would fit on a half sheet pan. Yup, two.

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Lavender Cookies, With or Without Chocolate

After last week’s pie adventure, I needed something quick and easy. What is easier than sugar cookies? Not much. The oven took longer to preheat than it did for me to make the dough.


These are special with lavender added for that summer touch. They are good with or without chocolate, however, I prefer with chocolate (besides the obvious must-eat-chocolate-every-day) because it balances out the strong lavender flavor. Quite amazing how strong a mere tablespoon of lavender can be.

I made these very tiny, using a teaspoon scoop, as recommended by the recipe. It means you can eat more, right? Right. These would be perfect for an afternoon with the girls. Lavender is very girly, after all. Especially when you add a little chocolate. (But your male counterparts will like them too, even if they say they are too macho to eat lavender.)


The recipe comes from The Baking Sheet by King Arthur Flour, their subscription magazine (newsletter?). It was a housewarming gift from my dear friend (thank you!).

I changed the baking technique slightly and added vanilla. Because vanilla and lavender sound good together, which also means they taste good together.

Enjoy!

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cubed
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/2 cups AP Flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TB dried lavender (if you use fresh, use more)
  • 1 1/3 cups dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350. Line two sheet pans with parchment or silpat.

In a stand mixer (hand held is fine too), beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until very fluffy, about 5 minutes (set a timer!). Add the egg, mix, scrape bowl, and mix again. Stir in the flour and salt, mix until almost combined, add lavender, and finish mixing.

Drop dough by teaspoonful, leaving about an inch between cookies. They won’t spread much at all. Bake until slightly golden on edges, about 11 minutes.

Cool completely on rack.

Once cool, melt your chocolate. I prefer a double boiler for this because it will also keep your chocolate soft while you are dipping. Plus, you are much less likely to burn as you would if you melted your chocolate in the microwave. Dip cookies in chocolate and set out on sheet pan to set. If you live in a hot and humid environment like me, it may never set. Chill briefly (very briefly) in the refrigerator to at least get them off the sheet pan.

Now grab a bowl of these dish with the girls.

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The Cookie that beats up other Cookies

Recently I was watching The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Chocolate on the Food Network (one of the few remaining good shows on that network – jus’ saying). And what do you know, there was the Levain Bakery showcasing one of their most amazing and I’m sure incredibly delicious cookies. I don’t know because I’ve never actually had one before. I just keep seeing them on TV and each time I have to refrain from buying a plane ticket to New York for that very same day. This time they were showcasing their Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookie. Dear God, I think I may have died and gone to heaven! And, at this rate I am going to have to change the name of this blog to “Let’s Talk Chocolate”. I think that is one of those good problems.

My version of the Levain Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie.

If you know anything about the Levain Bakery, then you probably know they do not share their recipes. Guess their moms never told them sharing is caring. Or maybe they did, except when it involved a cookie that likely makes them plenty of money, in which case, go moms!  Thankfully we have many other talented bakers out there who are willing to share what they believe to be a very close copy cat recipe. I headed back to the blogger who first introduced me to her copy cat recipe, Lisa Michele. Turns out on the very same page as her Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever recipe she also has a Chocolate Peanut Butter cookie, which can easily be adjusted to make a Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookie.

And as luck would have it, I had just ordered two new cocoa powders from King Arthur Flour, their Double Dutch Cocoa Powder and their Black Cocoa. I was very anxious to give these cocoa powders a try in the cookie. (If you don’t have these, I’m sure the cookies will still be amazing, but do try to stay away from not-so-great cocoa powder like Hershey’s and store brands. Those poor quality cocoas will have a detrimental effect on your cookie.)

These are cookies, which means they are very easy to make. I used Lisa Michele’s recipe almost exactly, using the max amount of cocoa she suggests but also adding 1 TB of coffee. In order make them incredibly gooey, you will need to underbake them. However, if you aren’t a big fan of underbaked cookies, they will still taste delightful baked longer.

Fair warning, these are probably some of the most intense chocolate flavored cookies I’ve ever had. They could easily be a brownie. And they do require a scoop of ice cream or a big glass of milk. My dear hubby went crazy for these. I’m sure you will too!

Gooey chocolate chocolate chip cookie with a scoop of coffee ice cream.

Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Modified very slightly from Lisa Michele

  • 2 sticks cold butter, cubed (cold is very important!)
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TB coffee, cooled
  • 1/2 cup dutch process cocoa** SIFTED
  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cup AP Flour, spoon and sweep method
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 to 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups good quality chocolate (I use guittard)

**I used 1/4 cup + 2TB KAF Double Dutch and 2 TB black cocoa. The black cocoa is not meant to be used all by itself, so you don’t want to use too much. Don’t forget to sift your cocoa powder!

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line sheet trays with silpat or parchment.

2. Scale all your ingredients. Put the butter back in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

3. Cream the butter and the sugar, along with the coffee in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Then add the cocoa powder (turn the mixer to low or off before doing this to avoid a mess!).

5. Mix the remaining dry ingredients together. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined. Add chocolate chips and mix briefly.

6. Using a scoop, scoop the dough onto a parchment. The size is up to you, but you will get a gooey cookie with a crisp crust if they are bigger.

The cookie before baking. Yes, the dough tastes good, I tried it.

7. Bake at 375 for 12 to 18 minutes depending on the size. Since they are chocolate, determining if they are done can be a bit challenging and may require a little experimentation. This experimentation will no doubt involve tasting the cookie. Baking can be such a rough job.

Hopefully someday I will be able to try the real thing. I know they ship, but it isn’t the same as getting it from the bakery. Until then, I will enjoy these fresh out of my oven!

Tip: I think I first read this on Lisa Michele’s blog, but I can’t recall for sure. If you are like me, you might just devour all of these cookies within 24 hours. Not a great idea! So to freeze them, scale them out on a sheet pan and freeze. Once frozen, place the dough in a plastic baggie. Then whenever you are ready for a cookie (which is always, right?) just place the frozen dough ball on a sheet pan a bake. No need to defrost!

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Chocoholics Beware: Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies

I’ll be the first to admit I am 100% addicted to chocolate. I must have some every day, whether it be in the form of a delicious dessert or simply just a handful of my beloved Guittard chocolate chips. So imagine my delight when I found this recipe for Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies.

First, however, I need to discuss my new favorite book, Bon Appetit Desserts, given to me as a birthday gift from a dear friend. This book will now be referred to as “My Bible”. It is an astounding 689 pages full of baking instruction, equipment and techniques, and recipes ranging from cakes all the way to candy. I’m almost considering throwing out my other baking books because everything I need seems to be in this one book. (Of course I won’t do that, since I love my cookbooks.) And what a steal at only $25 on Amazon. That comes to about three cents per page. Well worth your money.

Back to the cookies! I was looking for a new cookie and one that was fairly easy to make. Chocolate is always a bonus too. These satisfy both of those requirements. The dough ends up being almost like truffles, because there is no flour (gluten free!) and no butter or egg yolks (cholesterol free!). I was very curious as to how they would turn out with no butter or flour. Turns out, pretty amazing! They are very rich and just one will satisfy your sweet tooth. Perhaps then we could also call them “Diet Friendly”?

The recipe is very easy and I did not modify it at all, which is on page 539 of the book.

  • 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate, about 9 ounces, divided
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch process)
  • 1 TB cornstarch
  • 1/4 Tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silpat. Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in glass bowl in microwave, stirring twice, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully to keep from burning.  Let cool slightly.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in a large bowl (or use stand mixer) until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1 cup powdered sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow cream (soft meringue). Whisk 1 cup powdered sugar, cocoa powder (sift first!), cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. On low speed, beat dry ingredients into meringue. Stir in lukewarm chocolate and remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Dough will become very stiff.

Place remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar in small bowl. Using a scoop, roll 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball; roll in powdered sugar, coating thickly. Place on prepared sheet, repeat with remaining dough. Cookies will spread, but not much. Bake cookies until puffed and tops crack, about 10 minutes. Cool on sheets on racks 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely.

Then pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy!

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Macarons, Macaroons

Macarons. Macaroons. However you say, or pronounce it, this is one delicious little cookie. And terribly intimidating. Airy meringue shell with a creamy delicious filling.  I tried my first macaron in Las Vegas at Payard’s Patisserie. Little pieces of heaven! And so beautiful. I almost didn’t want to eat it. But of course my sweet tooth won that battle.

I’ve been wanting to make them ever since but have been utterly terrified. It seemed so much could go wrong and I’d be disappointed. Then, I discovered one of my favorite pastry bloggers, Tartelette, had a tutorial. And it’s a great tutorial! You can find it on the first page of her blog. I highly, highly recommend reviewing her tutorial. I’m not going to go into the detail that she does, and this was only my first time making them. She’s been making them for a very long time!

But first, let’s take a moment to discuss the spelling. According to Wikipedia, Macaron is the French spelling, but still pronounced like Macaroon. But in the US, a macaroon can also be the coconut cookie (which I am not a fan of. Coconut and I don’t really get along well). To distinguish the two, many have adapted the French spelling to avoid confusion. Now that we’ve had our history lesson, let’s talk about how to make this delicate cookie. It isn’t as hard as it looks, as long as you carefully follow the directions.

Step one, take your separate your egg whites 24 to 48 hours before making your macarons. This is to help dry out the egg whites to make your meringue fluffier.

Recipe, courtesy of Tartelette

  • 3 egg whites (100 grams)
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 200 g powdered sugar
  • 110 g blanched almonds, whole or ground

1. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the egg whites to a foam and gradually add the granulated sugar until you achieve a glossy meringue.

2. Combine the almonds and powdered sugar and pulse them until they are finely ground.

3. Add the almond mixture to the meringue. Fold quickly at first to help break up the meringue. Count the strokes and slow down as it becomes more mixed. Tartelette states that it won’t take more than 50. For my first attempt, I went all the way to 50. 40 wasn’t enough, and 45 would have been just right. When you test a small amount, it should flatten completely on its own. If it doesn’t, it needs a little more folding.

4. Fill a pastry bag and fit it with a small, plain tip. Pipe a small amount onto a sheet pan lined with either silpat or parchment. Pipe a small amount so that when it flattens it turns out to be about 1.5 inches. This is another area where I messed up. I made mine way too big! I didn’t realize how much they would spread. Not necessarily a bad thing, just that I wanted small, delicate macarons. Next time!

5. Let macarons rest at room temp for about 1 hour to harden the shells. Preheat oven to 300F. Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool completely. Fill.

Filling, Raspberry Mascarpone, Courtesy of Tartelette

  • 4 oz mascarpone, room temp
  • 2 to 3 TB good raspberry preserves

Whisk together. Using a small piping bag, pipe a little filling on half the shells. Top with the other half. Eat, and enjoy! And practice, practice, practice! Overall, my first time went pretty good. Not great, but good. It wasn’t a disaster and they were quite tasty. Can’t wait to make them again! Thank you, Tartelette for providing such a great tutorial! It made the first time much less intimidating!

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