When Your Butter is Not Soft

Butter softening tips. Do not microwave butter when baking.

Continue Reading November 25, 2015 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

Perfectly shaped cookies with a paper towel roll

Here is a tip for shaping sliced cookies. Roll the dough in a tube shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Cut an empty paper towel tube lengthwise and mold it around the dough to form a cylinder shape. Wrap tape or rubber band around the tube and refrigerate dough until firm. (Dough can also be frozen.)

When it’s time to bake, slice the cookies as you normally would. To keep the dough from getting warm and losing its shape, keep a portion of the dough in the mold as you are cutting slices.

I attempted to mold cookies with roof flashing a few years ago for the poppy seed recipe. This seems much less cumbersome.

November 11, 2015 at 8:32 pm 1 comment

Chocolate Biscotti-Union Square Cafe Recipe

chocolatebiscotti
This recipe from a Manhattan restaurant (www.unionsquarecafe.com) appeared in the New York Times. Having never tried baking chocolate biscotti, I decided it would be a good way to spend a rainy July 4th afternoon. I’m preparing a large cookie platter for a family reunion tomorrow and these will make it to the platter. I don’t think I’ll cook them twice as instructed in the recipe. I had no raw sugar in the house but used white sugar crystals from my stash of cookie decorating supplies.

Chocolate Biscotti (Union Square Cafe)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ¾ cups lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon double-strength brewed espresso
  • 3 large eggs
  • 7 ½ ounces (1 rounded cup) small milk chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg, beaten and mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12- by 17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick liner. Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda; set aside.
  2. Using a heavy-duty electric mixer, cream together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter for 3 to 5 minutes at medium speed. Add vanilla extract and espresso. Mix for 10 seconds. Add eggs one at a time, mixing for 10 seconds at medium-low speed after each addition. Add sifted flour mixture and mix at low speed until dough comes together, 1 to 2 minutes. Add chocolate chips and mix just until chips are evenly incorporated, 15 to 20 seconds.
  3. Transfer dough to a work surface and divide in two, shaping into balls. Form each ball into a log 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Transfer logs to prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly. Brush tops of logs with egg wash and sprinkle each log with 1 tablespoon raw sugar. Bake until biscotti have spread, have a few cracks and bounce back slightly when pressed with fingertips, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut logs into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch slices. Place each slice with a cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or nonstick liner. Bake until firm, crisp and slightly dry, about 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or freeze for up to three months.

July 4, 2015 at 3:35 pm 1 comment

Valentine’s Day Almond Sugar Cookies

A crust recipe stands in for flaky cookies.

A crust recipe stands in for flaky cookies.

This cookie was developed from a crust for a wonderful cranberry tart, a recipe I have made many times which looks splendid on the cover of the December 1999 Bon Appetit magazine. Link to tart recipe here.

I’m making the tart for Valentine’s guests and decided to use the extra crust for small heart treats. I substituted almond flavoring for the vanilla and you could add a little more sugar, but filling them with raspberry preserves or chocolate ganache and dusting them with confectioners sugar keeps them sweet enough for me.

Crust (cookie) recipe

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons (about) ice water
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla (or almond) extract

Blend flour, sugar and salt in processor. Add butter and cut in, using on/off turns, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons water, egg yolk and vanilla. Blend until moist clumps form, adding more water by 1/2 tablespoonfuls if dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill at least 2 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Let soften slightly before rolling out.)

Roll out and cut into shapes. Bake at 375 for about 7 minutes or less for smaller or thinner cookies.

Fill with raspberry preserves, chocolate ganache or Nutella spread. Sift confectioners sugar over top prior to serving. Almond sugar cookies

February 14, 2015 at 12:03 pm Leave a comment

Chocolate Crinkles

Betty Crocker’s Cookie Book was the first cookie recipe book I ever received and the year was 1984. The book was first printed in 1963 and appears to have gone through a few updates or reprints through the next 20 years.

chocolate crinkleslI still use many recipes in this book and outside of sugar cookies, I most often go to this book for the Chocolate Crinkles recipe. I was on a roll about a decade ago and did a great job with these cookies, and then they seemed to be duds. I think some of my ingredients, especially the baking powder, were not fresh enough and it was impacting my outcomes. For the past two years, I’m back in business and having good luck with them, but these are still not as good as my sister Susan’s. She consistently churns out fudgy chocolate crinkles you could enjoy with a tall glass of milk or hot cocoa after a romp in the snow.

chocolate crinkles

Chocolate Crinkles

These cookies say “Christmas” to me. Rolled in a coating of confectioner’s sugar, the tops “crack” as they bake and produce lovely snow-like covered confections. Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Crinkles
From Betty Crocker’s Cookie Book

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 ounces melted unsweetened chocolate (cooled)

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 eggs

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup powdered sugar

Mix granulated sugar, oil, chocolate and vanilla.

Mix in eggs, one at a time. Sir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and refrigerate at least three hours.

Heat oven to 350. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls in powdered sugar. Roll around to coat. Shape into balls. Place about two inches apart on cookie sheets. (I use parchment on all sheets).

Bake until almost no indentation remains when touched. 10-12 minutes.

Makes about six dozen.

December 10, 2014 at 11:04 pm 3 comments

The holiday cookie baking marathon begins

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Russian Teacakes

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Linzer cookies made with an almond dough and rosemary lemond shortbread cookies.

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Pecan Tassies

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Peanut butter blossoms

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Gingerbread cookies

Our family launched the holiday season last week with its annual cookie bake. We baked from morning and into the night, and made hundreds, probably at least 1,000 cookies. Most are given away as gifts. For most days between now and Christmas, I’m either prepping dough or baking in my spare time. Today it was gingerbread cookies and tonight I’ll be making rosemary lemon shortbread cookies. These recipes can all be searched in this blog. I have not tried a new cookie recipe in a while or blogged about baking. Life has a way of taking over. Photos of my progress will be up through the next month.

A few photos below from our day of baking in my sister’s great house on a dirt road in rural upstate New York. We are glad she built this house with several ovens for us!

December 6, 2014 at 7:43 pm 2 comments

Measuring flour with a flair

Measuring cups and spoons do not have to be boring. I am enjoying these gifts–colorful baking spoons and cups made with glass. They are prettier than pyrex but fragile so keep them away from young hands or clumsy adults. I have had them for more than two years so they are holding up well. They are my baking fine china.

 

glassware

Baking glass

measuring cups

July 7, 2014 at 7:28 pm Leave a comment

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