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Posts Tagged ‘Cookies’

I may have bought a few too many pistachios when I made the gelato so I thought I’d recreate the almond cookies  of Sevilla with pistachios, we loved them so much. I also had exactly 7 g of the matcha powder which was the perfect amount for the cookies. I served them for dessert one evening we had a friend over (in the back yard) and she couldn’t stop raving about them.

Pistacho-Matcha Tuiles de Sevilla

Makes one sheet pan about 34 cm x 38 cm (13.5″ x 15″)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 80 g sugar
  • 30 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
  • 50 g cake and pastry flour
  • 7 g matcha powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 75 g pistachios, chopped

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
  2. Beat the egg with the sugar until it reaches the ribbon stage, about 5 minutes. Beat in the flavourings and cooled butter.
  3. Sift the flour with the salt and matcha powder and fold into the egg mixture.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 265° F (130° C).
  5. Pour the entire batter onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and spread out with an offset spatula until it is quite thin (about 3-4 mm) works out to about 34 cm x 38 cm. Evenly sprinkle the chopped pistachios onto the batter and gently push into the batter.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until evenly golden, turn the pan once about halfway.
  7. Cool completely and break into uneven pieces.
  8. Once cooled, store in an airtight container for about a week, but they won’t last that long!

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We have been doing a lot of entertaining since our return from Arizona. I love feeding my friends, it really does make me happy. A few weekends ago we had a marathon weekend entertaining on Friday, Saturday, Sunday AND Tuesday! Fortunately, I was able to plan ahead and make a few things for a couple of the dinner parties considering both friends had gluten-free requirements. First, I made a batch of the original recipe with almonds then I recalled that my dear friend’s hubby is a nut-hater (the food kind) so I created a chocolate version of the recipe. It was wonderful. I served them with coffee.

The snow just doesn’t want to stop.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Tuiles of Sevilla (Tejas Dulces de Sevilla)

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 25 cm x 30 cm (10″ x 12″) sheet, cut to make cookies of various sizes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 95 g sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 30 mL unflavoured oil
  • 50 g Gluten Free flour (I used this mix)
  • 15 g cocoa powder
  • 80 g milk chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 250° F.
  2. Beat the egg with the sugar until it reaches the ribbon stage, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and oil.
  3. Sift the gluten-free flour with the cocoa powder and salt together then fold into the egg mixture.
  4. Pour the entire batter onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and spread out until it is quite thin (about 3-4 mm (about 1/8-3/16 inch) works out to about 25 cm x 30 cm (10″ x 12″). Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips onto the batter and gently push into the batter.
  5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until evenly baked, turn the pan once about halfway.
  6. While still warm, move parchment onto a cutting board and cut into uneven shapes with a pizza cutter or break into natural shapes after it cools. Transfer parchment to a cooling rack and allow to cool. Cookies will firm up as they cool.
  7. Once cooled, store in an airtight container for about a week, but they won’t last that long!

Notes:

  • I use an offset spatula to spread the batter onto the parchment paper.
  • This recipe will work well with store-bought gluten flour too.

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This is an old recipe that I’ve made on the blog before, I just wanted to update it using weight measures instead of imperial volume and I also wanted to use fresh ginger instead of the dried powder. If you like the bite of ginger, this one is for you. This day I made them in late October was actually quite lovely and I braved the chill to take this photo on our back deck. Winter is coming!

It has that delicious chewy texture that some ginger snaps might have if they don’t dry out.

Ginger Snaps Revisited

Makes about 36 to 46 cookies, depending on how large you make them\

Ingredients:

  • 75 g butter
  • 115 g brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup black molasses
  • 30 g fresh ginger
  • 280 g you all-purpose flour
  • 3 g salt
  • 5 g baking powder
  • 5 g baking soda
  • 2 g ground allspice

Directions:

  1. Combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and molasses and heat gently until melted. Set aside.
  2. Grate the fresh ginger and stir into the melted butter mixture.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients and whisk or sift to stir. Make a well in the centre and pour the melted butter mixture into it and mix until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Drop the cookie dough by even spoonfuls (I used a large melon baller) onto the lined cookie sheet. Roll each ball in the palm of your hand to create a smooth ball, then press down to flatten with a flour cookie press to about half a centimetre.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes (I baked mine for 10) and cool on a wire rack. Store in an air-tight container but don’t worry, you won’t have to store them for long.

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It’s been a busy year and I’ve seen spending a lot of time in front of my computer. I don’t mind doing that type of work, but I do miss cooking and with that, getting my advanced blog posts ready to publish. In fact, I am nowhere near the advanced the blog posts I should be, in preparation for our yearly sojourn to Arizona. I have four posts ready to go but I should have 10! That makes me nervous because I may not have time to post while we are in Arizona; we have three separate group friends coming down for 5-7 days each! That means a lot of sightseeing and daily adventures and less cooking and recipe developing.

You can definitely see the winter light creeping in.

I modified and made this little recipe because during one coffee break JT mentioned that he would love to have a little biscotti to nibble on while we sit and enjoy our coffees. I like making biscotti because they are easy and are not overly finicky. This recipe came together quickly and more or less in one bowl.

Chocolate Chip and Almond Biscotti

For the original recipe, please click here.

Makes about 20 biscotti but it depends on how thickly you form and cut the logs

Ingredients:

  • 57 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 225 g brown sugar
  • 10 mL pure vanilla extract
  • 5 mL almond extract
  • 275 g all-purpose flour
  • 75 g almond flour
  • 20 g baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 165 g chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time and best until entirely incorporated. Add the extracts and beat.
  4. Whisk together the dry ingredients (omit the chocolate chips) and blend into the butter mixture.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Form into two even logs and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Slice diagonally into 10 slices each and lay flat on the same parchment-line baking sheet and bake again for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool completely before serving.

Notes:

  • I shaped my logs too wide, next time I shall make them more slender and have twice the number of biscotti.
  • Biscotti store well in an airtight container but if it will take you more than a week to consume, I would freeze them until required. Defrost at room temperature.
  • I didn’t have whole almonds but this would have been lovely having a few whole almonds folded into the batter.

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Spring has been avoiding us in Toronto. We have had a few nice days of sunshine and relative warmth but for the most part it’s been rainy and unseasonably cold. It is depressing. If it weren’t for the gorgeous greenery exploding in anticipation of summer, you would think it is November.

I haven’t baked madeleines in a very long time and I thought the orange flavour would mentally transport us to more summer-like weather and JT loves orange and chocolate. Sadly, they were not a big hit with the construction crew but that made JT happy because he was able to keep them for himself (it’s been a bit of struggle keeping JT from munching on the treats that I’ve made for the crew, wink wink). These baked up beautifully and without that strange little bump in the centre, which is a win for me.

Orange & Almond Scented Madeleines

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly grated orange zest (about 2 small oranges)
  • 128 g all-purpose flour
  • 48 g almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds)
  • 145 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, divided
  • 80 g semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. With about 30 g of the butter, generously butter the Madeleine moulds and put it into the freezer.
  3. Melt the remainder of the butter in the microwave or small saucepan. Set aside to cool.
  4. Put about 2 tbsp of the melted butter in a frying pan and toast the almond flour (carefully, this burns quickly). Set aside to cool.
  5. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat the whole eggs with the granulated sugar until the mixture is thick and pale and forms a ribbon when the beaters are lifted (15-20 minutes).
  6. Beat in the toasted almond flour and mix well so no lumps remain.
  7. Beat in the almond and orange extracts and the zest.
  8. Sift in the flour in 4 batches over the mixture, folding it in gently after each addition.
  9. Put about 250 mL of the batter into the cooled melted butter and incorporate well.
  10. Gently fold this butter-batter mixture into the remaining batter.
  11. Spoon the batter into twenty-four buttered Madeleine moulds and bake the Madeleines in the lower third of a preheated 375°F oven for 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden.
  12. Turn the Madeleines out on a rack, let them cool.
  13. Once cooled, dip into the chocolate if using right away, if not, Madeleines freeze well.

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Late last summer, I did some prop shopping for a prop-stylist colleague who was swamped and needed a hand. It’s a lot of work, don’t get me wrong, the shopping bit is fun but there is a lot of schlepping! And you have to be extremely organized to be able to return some of the props that weren’t used! That being said, it’s a job I don’t envy, they earn every penny and then some. While I was waiting for a store to open, I stopped into an Italian cafe for a coffee and biscotti. The coffee was fine but the biscotti was atrocious, it was soggy! Imagine that. Such an unsatisfying treat. The worst. So I had to make my own! These definitely hit the spot!

Cranberry and Almond Biscotti Revisted

Makes about 30 biscotti

Ingredients:

  • 320 g AP unbleached flour
  • 4 g baking powder
  • 3 g salt
  • 340 g sugar
  • 125 g butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 7 mL almond extract
  • 150 g frozen cranberries, defrosted
  • 70 g almonds, toasted

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well. Fold in the cranberries and almonds (I used whole)
  3. In the large bowl of your stand mixer, combine the sugar, butter, eggs and almond extract and mix for about 4 minutes.
  4. Fold in the dry ingredients until entirely combined (I did this using my whisk attachment so I didn’t break up the cranberries.
  5. Divide the batter in half and shape into relatively skinny logs on the parchment, leaving sufficient space between the two as they will spread during baking.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden.
  7. Remove logs from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, slice each log into 1.5 cm slices. Place cut-side down on the baking sheet (reuse the original parchment) and bake for 10 minutes, flip and continue to bake for 5 more minutes or until lightly golden. Cool completely.
  8. Store in an air-tight container or freeze. Serve with coffee or tea.

You’ll need to bake these a little longer because the cranberries are moist.

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You guys know of our dear friends, Paul & T, they summer in Wisconsin and winter in Arizona. This year, they decided to sell their Wisconsin home and move permanently to Arizona. They were kind enough to invite us to the Lake House one last time. Because they are imminently selling their home in Wisconsin, we were not able to bring lasting gifts because their trip home to Arizona will be packed solid with whatever they move from their home in Wisconsin. Food is always a good bet with them, so I’ve been experimenting with recipes and this one, I must say is a winner. Don’t skip the drizzle, it just makes it OTT lemony. You have to love lemons to make this tasty treat, or at least, have someone that does. It probably works with lime too, although I haven’t tried it.

I used this recipe as my starting point, I just loved how they looked, with the drizzle and all. Plus, it sounded like they were really lemony, but I wanted to up the ante so I also added a splash of lemon extract as well as lemon zest to the cookie dough. BANG!

Buttery, melt in your mouth lemon shortbread that has balanced sweetness.

Lemony Shortbread Cookies

Makes 54 cookies, about 3 cm x 3 cm

For the original recipe, kindly click here.

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 227 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 86 g powdered sugar
  • 5 mL vanilla extract
  • 5 mL lemon extract
  • 5 g lemon zest
  • 240 g AP unbleached flour
  • 56 g cornstarch
  • 2.5 mL salt

Ingredients for the drizzle:

  • 80 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 15 mL fresh lemon juice
  • 5 mL lemon zest
  • water (to thin, if needed)

Directions:

  1. Combine the butter and confectioner’s sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, lemon extracts and lemon zest.
  2. Sift the flour, cornstarch and salt into the butter and mix until a smooth dough is formed. It will take about 1.5-2 minutes.
  3. Between two pieces of parchment, roll out the dough to a 33 cm x 23 cm rectangle and cut into little squares (I did 3 cm x 3 cm), refrigerate cookies on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes. They don’t spread much, so you needn’t leave more than 1 cm between each cookie.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Bake for 15-20 minutes, you don’t want them too golden because these are pretty if pale white.
  5. For the drizzle, mix the confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice and zest in a food processor and process until smooth and drizzle-able. If necessary, add water.
  6. Allow the cookies to cool completely before drizzling with the lemony mixture.
  7. Allow the drizzle to set at room temperature before stacking the cookies.

Notes:

  • I baked these on a super hot day, not sure why my version took so much longer than the original recipe.
  • I found the original drizzle recipe made way too much drizzle, it has a good lemon flavour and is intended to enhance the shortbread, not overwhelm it so I reduced the quantities by half.

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In mid-March JT and I went to the large National Home Show at the Enercare Centre. I found discounted tickets on Groupon AND I also found a Groupon discount code, which made the two tickets $17.80; that was an awesome deal because the regular price of the tickets are $20 each! These shows are getting more and more expensive and I really don’t understand why, the vendors pay through the nose to exhibit, AND the public pays a hefty entrance fee. The kicker was parking at $21! The Enercare Centre is not located downtown, it is slightly west but still within the city, but there is not much else around it — total money grab! And that completes my rant.

While at the show, there are always a few food vendors exhibiting and one of my favourites is a shortbread company who generously hands out samples. JT and I sampled one of their savoury shortbread cookies and I knew I had to make a batch. On the drive home, we brain-stormed the possible flavours and I knew the moment JT said caramelized onion that it had to be the one. We bought a very special sharp cheddar to accompany the sweet flavour of the caramelized onion, they were absolutely perfect!

Caramelized Onion and Cheddar Shortbread Cookies

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 75 cookies that are about 3 cm in diameter.

To print recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 114 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 80 mL caramelized onions, slightly dried out, see notes
  • 120 g sharp cheddar, grated
  • 5 g sea salt
  • 120 g “00” flour
  • 90 g cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter, caramelized onions and grated cheddar until light and fluffy (about 5-8 minutes).
  3. Sift the salt, flour and cornstarch into the creamed butter mixture and mix until well combined but do not overmix.
  4. Create two disks and wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Turn out to a lightly floured surface and roll about 4 mm thick.
  6. Cut with 3 cm round cookie cutter. Continue until the dough has been used up. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack.
  7. Serve with wine or your favourite cocktail.

Notes:

  • We used the KitchenAid Flex Edge Beater, it creams the cheese, butter and onion beautifully.
  • We always keep caramelized onions in the freezer in ziplock baggies for such uses. I use this recipe.
  • Spread the caramelized onion on a piece of parchment and allow it to sit for 10 minutes, this allows some of the moisture to wick out and will allow the shortbread its melt-in-the-mouthfeel.
  • The cheddar we used today was a Welsh cheddar.
  • The “00” flour we used was an imported Italian flour.
  • The rolling pin we used was this one. To be honest, I don’t love it, it’s a pain to unscrew the disks that are not required but it does roll the dough out evenly.

The flavour of the caramelized onion shines in this delicate little savoury cookie.

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I will reveal our latest adventure now! Drumroll please: We spent the month of November in Arizona. We have dear friends who live there during the winter and when we were visiting during February, we tossed around the idea to buy a second house there. But before we make the plunge, we wanted to be certain we liked it so we rented an awesome house in the same community that our friends live.

Now who were we kidding? It was -5° C (23° F) (but it felt like -10° C (14° F)) in Toronto while we were enjoying 28° C (82° F) with sunshine. Every. Single. Day. What’s not to like? The community is tagged as resort-style living with a gorgeous golf course and 4 swimming pools, a spa, workout facilities and a couple of restaurants. Yep, I could get used to it!

The community is located in Queen’s Creek. Queen’s Creek is situated in the San Tan Valley, south-east of Phoenix, Arizona. As another friend said, “it’s not quite the end of the world, but you can see the end of the world from there!”

It is also a mere 4.5-hour drive to the Grand Canyon and that is where we did our EPIC hike! We hiked 7.5 hours to Indian Grove and back. Going down was relatively easy, we bought good hiking boots and sticks, but going up was significantly more challenging because of the altitude and lack of oxygen. We stopped and rested a lot. Listening to your body is essential as is allowing your muscles to recover as you’re ascending. It took us 3 hours to hike down and 3.5 hours to hike back up (which isn’t bad for a couple of old folks!), the rest of the time we spent at Indian Grove eating a delicious lunch I packed. The worst part was the day and day two later, my calves ached like a demon. But it was worth it! I’ve put together s little slide show of our hike at the end of this post, if you are interested. And by the way, my stupid FitBit died sometime during our hike so I don’t even know how many steps we did, but if the last time we hiked only 1.5 hours down and back was any indication, we did 22,000 steps! This is my third FitBit Zip and when I called them that it was eating the batteries like crazy (one every 2-3 weeks) they said it was a known issue and they are working on fixing it but would do NOTHING ELSE. So I am done with FitBit, they let me down in one of the most epic hikes of my life and had nothing but “oh, sorry” to say about it. I am going to get a Garmin which I hear are much more reliable.

This cookie has nothing to do with the hike or our trip, it’s a cookie I made for Canadian Thanksgiving at my sweet cousin Lucy’s place. My dear blogging friend Liz (of That Skinny Chick Can Bake, blog) was the inspiration, I saw the recipe on her site a while back. These cookies were all the rave in the 90’s on restaurant menus but I haven’t seen one in ages. Liz’s recipe will change that for sure.

Skillet Chocolate Chunk Cookie

Makes 1 12″ Cookie

Please click here for the original recipe.

Click here to print this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 195 g butter
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 150 g brown sugar
  • 15 mL vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 350 g AP Flour
  • 3 g baking powder
  • 5 g salt
  • 100 g chocolate chips (I used Belgian milk and semi-sweet chocolate)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375° F (I used the convection setting). Prepare a 30 cm cast iron skillet with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Melt the butter and sugars in a heatproof bowl in the microwave, stir until sugars have melted. Cool slightly and then stir in the vanilla. Combine the egg and whites and whisk. Whisk into the butter-sugar mixture.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt, add it to the butter-sugar mixture and mix until well combined.
  4. Fold in 3/4 the chocolate, reserving about 1/4 to dot the top of the cookie for garnish.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  6. Cool to room temperature. Serve slicing fractions of the circle.

Notes:

  • I like to buy Belgian chocolate disks (not molding chocolate) and melt them, spread them on a cookie sheet and chill until set. Then I break up the sheets by hand, making different sized pieces with a variety of thicknesses.

It’s a cross between cookie and blondie that is quite difficult to resist.

Click on the first photo to see the slideshow.

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tejas-dulces_first

Happy Halloween Everyone! Hope you all have a ghoulish night!!!

While in Europe this past September, we spent four extremely hot days in Sevilla. It’s no wonder they call Spain the “Frying pan of Europe”! It wasn’t as hot as it had been (near 50° C or 122° F) but it was hot enough for us! The sun was relentless and most locals only walk in the shade (you can tell who lives there because they hug the shadows directly beside the old buildings!). The city has covered some of its sunnier streets with canopy sails to shade the citizens and tourists, it’s that bad!

Many of the historic town streets have these sails in both Sevilla and Madrid.

Many of the historic town streets have installed these canopy sails to protect citizens and tourist from the unyielding sun, in both Sevilla and Madrid, though I did not see them in Granada.

During one of our last walks though the beautiful historic part of town, we stumbled into the area where the locals actually live. There were no tourist shops, a few restaurants, just butchers, bakers, children’s clothing stores, kitchen stores (yes, I did buy something), grocery stores and specialty shops. One such shop was a beautifully designed little cookie shop where they sold only one type of cookie in three flavours: La Tejas Dulces de Sevilla, in almond, pistachio and coconut. A young lady was handing out samples in front of the beautiful store and we couldn’t resist. In one taste, we were immediately hooked on the simple almond flavour and lovely crunchy texture and we had to buy some. Upon returning to Toronto, I hid the small package so that I could work on a recipe and perfect it for the blog. I told JT it was for the greater good, he wasn’t impressed.

The cookies are light, airy, crunchy and full of flavour; imagine a genoise batter spread paper-thin, topped with almonds and baked until golden. They are so GOOD! The recipe is relatively simple but follow the instructions to get the signature airy, crunchy texture. I think this could easily convert to a gluten free variety, stay tuned!

I must warn you, though, because these are not like the French Tuiles, these have a bit more body than a traditional French tuiles. They are really more cracker-like than a tuile or a cookie.

Scroll down to the end of this post to see pictures from this part of our trip.

tejas-dulces_2

Delicately sweet, these crispy, flavourful cookies hit the spot for an afternoon craving!


original

These are the originals we brought back from Sevilla, sadly only three left and a mess of crumbs but I’ve finessed the recipe so I can make more!

Almond Tuiles of Sevilla (Tejas Dulces de Sevilla)

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 25 cm x 30 cm (10″ x 12″) sheet, cut to make cookies or various sizes

Ingredients:

  • 30 g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 75 g (3/4 cup) almonds, thinly sliced and toasted
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 80 g (~1/3 cup) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond flavour
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
  • 50 g cake and pastry flour
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Toast the almonds until golden. Set aside to cool.
  2. Melt* the butter and set aside to cool.
  3. Beat the egg with the sugar until it reaches the ribbon stage, about 5 minutes. Beat in the flavourings and cooled butter.
  4. Sift the flour with the salt and fold into the egg mixture, cover and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 265° F (130° C).
  6. Pour the entire batter onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and spread out until it is quite thin (about 3-4 mm (about 1/8-3/16 inch) works out to about 30 cm x 30 cm (12″ x 12″). Evenly sprinkle the toasted almonds onto the batter and gently push into the batter**.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until evenly golden, turn the pan once about halfway.
  8. While still warm, move parchment onto a cutting board and cut into uneven shapes with a pizza cutter. Transfer parchment to a cooling rack and allow to cool. Cookies will firm up as they cool.
  9. Once cooled, store in an airtight container for about a week, but they won’t last that long!

Spread batter out thinly (about 30 x 30 cm or 12 x 12 inches)

Spread batter out thinly (about 30 x 30 cm or 12 x 12 inches)


tejas-dulces_3

I made another batch but spread the batter out much thinner. They probably could have baked a little longer to get a little richer colour, but the flavour and texture is spot on.

Notes:

  • *for additional flavour, brown the butter in a frying pan until hazelnut in colour.
    ** to insure that all of the almonds are ‘stuck’ to the batter, I did a little toss of the pan quickly and that way I was able to move ‘unstuck’ almonds to a better place.
  • Add a teaspoon of lemon zest because lemon and almond go so wonderfully together!
  • Drizzle melted chocolate over the cookies once they are cool, refrigerate until set then store in an airtight container for about a week, but be warned, these won’t even last as long as the originals!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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ChocScoreMacarons_First

I had the good fortune to be called to work a continuous 9-day job recently. It was a crazy schedule that had us styling and shooting 10-20 shots per day; I was first assistant and we even had a second assistant to help with cleanup and be our runner (running things to set when needed).  Even when everything goes right, it’s a crazy ambitious schedule and at the end of each day, I was so beat, I could barely talk — most days were 11 hours but the last day went 13! I even got to style some of my own work as we had two sets going on a couple of days. We did get one day reprieve in the middle of the hectic schedule and being the crazy woman that I am, I made Chocolate-Skor* Macarons for the team!

To be honest, this flavour combo came by, by error; I had made a batch for our anniversary party and the tops cracked (I beat the egg whites too long), so to hide my error, I coated the cracks with melted chocolate and skor* bits! No one was the wiser and they were by far, the most talked about during the party!

The team LOVED them, so I thought I’d record the recipe for posterity! I’ll be making them again for sure!

Macarons

These are the one’s I served at the party, the bottom tray macarons are the cracked ones I hid with chocolate and skor* bits!

Bucket List

Chocolate-Skor* Macarons

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 18-22 macarons (depending on how large your cookies are)

Ingredients:

  • 70 g blanched almond meal or flour (finely ground)
  • 116 g icing sugar
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 15 g cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F (177° C). Prepare your macaron template using your computer to draw 2.5 cm or 1″ circles about 2.5 cm or 1″ apart. Print two sheets. Put the two sheets under your UNSTICK™ baking sheet liner to use as your circle templates.
    MacaronTemplate
  2. Add finely ground almonds, cocoa powder and icing sugar into a food processor and pulse a few times to completely combine.
  3. Press the almond/sugar/cocoa mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the larger bits. You should have no more than 2 tbsps left (discard or save larger almond bits for something else).
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk egg whites and granulated sugar by hand to combine. Beat until you have very stiff and glossy peaks when you lift the whisk out of the bowl. DO NOT OVER WHIP or you will get cracked tops.
  5. Add the almond/sugar/cocoa mixture ALL at ONCE to the stiffly beaten egg whites and fold with a silicone spatula starting from 12 o’clock all the way back to 12 o’clock in a clockwise motion, then drag the spatula directly down the middle, pressing firmly against the bowl. Repeat this process until all of the almond/sugar/cocoa mixture has been incorporated and the ‘batter’ flows like lava (I counted about 35 complete strokes). Too few folds will result in cracked tops and too many folds will not permit the feet to form while baking.
  6. Prepare a pastry bag fitted with a 1 cm or 3/8″ round tip. Transfer the batter to the pastry bag.
  7. Begin piping the batter onto the prepared UNSTICK™ baking sheet liner directly over the circles you’ve previously prepared. I found starting directly in the middle and piping a quantity of batter until it reaches the circle edge and lifting the pastry bag up and giving it a little twist to release from the pan, is the best way to do it. However you do the piping, you must be consistent to keep the batter size even. Gently slide out the template paper from beneath the UNSTICK™ baking sheet liner.
  8. Allow the pan to rest for 5 minutes, by doing this you give the peaks time to even out so your Macarons are beautiful and flat on top. Some suggest that you gently bang the pan a few time to remove air bubbles, I found I didn’t have many bubbles.
  9. Bake each sheet separately for 11-13 minutes, rotating halfway through if your oven doesn’t bake evenly. Gently slide the non-stick liner off the baking sheet and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. The UNSTICK™ baking sheet liner allows you to  pry off each macaron half easily onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. You may freeze the Macaron halves at this point in a well sealed, air-tight container.
  10. Prepare your buttercream, I loved this recipe from Lorraine Elliot of Not Quite Nigella Blog but I did find that I did not need the entire 75 mL of water, I used only about 35 mL.

Chocolate-Score topping

Ingredients:

  • About 65 g Belgian chocolate
  • About 1/3 cup skor* bits

Directions:

  1. Melt Belgian chocolate in a double boiler until smooth and shiny.

Macaron Assembly:

  1. I prefer to work with at least 1-day old macarons which have sat in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container.
  2. Pipe buttercream onto 1/2 of the macaron cookies. Complete the macaron by choosing a similar-sized bottom and press gently onto the buttercream.
  3. Smear a bit of melted chocolate over the top and bottom of each macaron and dip into the skor* bits.
  4. Place macarons in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. This is an important step to allow the macaron to develop the correct texture.

Notes:

  • I would not recommend freezing macarons which have already been filled with buttercream.
  • Freeze fully cooled macaron ‘cookies’ in an airtight container, they will last about 1 month (after then they dry out too much).
Macaron_1

They were so good!

This batch the tops did not crack, but I wanted the chocolate-score topping anyway!

The tops did not crack with this batch, but I wanted the chocolate-skor* topping anyway!

*Skor was corrected from Score!

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It’s been a wild and crazy couple of weeks. Some of you who are friends on Facebook have seen a little of what’s been going on at Kitchen Inspirations but for those who are not, here is a quick recap and a timely post for the In My Kitchen series.

JT and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. My, how time flies. (BTW,I was a child bride). We had about 50 people to our home and as luck would have it, it was rainy and cold all day, just like our wedding day so our garden party moved indoors. My cousin Lucy was a godsend as she helped fill glasses, replenish trays and clear out dirty dishes. I felt like a guest at my own party. Here are a few pics.

Macarons

I baked 146 macarons, some for the party and some for gift bags. The best ones were on the bottom t, they were coffee shells with coffee buttercream with chocolate dipped tops and bottoms with score bits (truth be told, the tops cracked so instead of tossing them, I dipped them in chocolate and score bits! BEST ONES EVER!)

Gifts

We packaged 2 macarons to go for each couple.

EvaJohnAnnivParty

I hacked an H&M dress by cutting off the sleeves and I added very expensive French lace to make a GOGO dress with bells sleeves! I also changed the neckline.

Desserts

There were more tasty desserts.

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The food was cold and self-serve. I made pretzel buns

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There was a lot of cheese too.

TheFood3

We had some fruit and veggies too.

We hardly had a crumb left, I felt like I didn’t have enough but JT thinks that it was just right. Do you generally feel better if you have too much food or just enough?

Last week, I was fortunate to have been recommended by a fellow food stylist for a television segment on our local City Line on City TV, a daily lifestyle talk show. I was cooking for Food Network, celebrity chef David Rocco. Because the segment was only 5 minutes long, I had to prepare the dish at various stages to allow the magic of TV to finish the dish in record time. Lifestyle talk shows are an interesting beast, so much prep for such short segments and what is even more surprising is the lack of space available for preparations on site. Fortunately, I had already done a segment on the Global Morning show so I was familiar with the limitations and extras that have to be done to make it a success, case in point, I had to bring props! That meant, shopping for props AND groceries. The recipe called for a cup of shelled sweets peas so I called on a group of friends and we sat and shelled peas the afternoon before. My call time was 9:15, I decided to get up early and make the dishes in the morning before I left so that they would be as fresh as possible. I made two batches of pasta, half cooked pancetta, fully cooked pancetta, chopped some shrimp and cooked some shrimp. I assembled the dish on set after the platter was chosen and garnished it close to shoot time. Even so, I still had to oil a few places as the lights dried it out. See the segment here.

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Chef David Rocco and me. He was absolutely delightful.

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Just prior to wheeling the kitchen on set, I still needed to ‘sauce’ the dish up a bit.

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The props, some I bought specifically for the show and some are mine from home or the cottage!

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The go live to tape in front of a live studio audience. The host is Tracy Moore

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Tracy reviewing her lines before taping.

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AmarettiCookies_1

Ever since we recently had our Jura Espresso Machine serviced, we have been indulging in an espresso after lunch. We stock our coffee maker with decaffeinated espresso coffee beans so we’re not worried about being kept up at night with caffeine. Every time I have an espresso in the afternoon, I always feel like a little something to have with it, a biscotti (like this, this or this) or in most recent times, an amaretti cookie. Having just the right amount of ground almonds on hand, I decided to whip up these traditional but super easy cookies for our afternoon espresso.

Did you know that the first amaretti were made with crushed apricot kernels and almonds? You can read the story here.

They are deliciously almondy.

They are deliciously almondy.

Amaretti Cookies

Original recipe may be found here, I had to modify it because the cookies were flattening too much with the original proportions.

Makes about 44 cookies

Ingredients

  • 410 g ground almonds
  • 410 g granulated sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tsp almond flavouring
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 44 whole almonds, skin on

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325° F  (163° C).
  2. In small portions, add the ground almonds, granulated sugar and lemon zest to the small container of your NutriBullet and using your milling blade, grind to a fine consistency. Run through a coarse sieve to avoid the almond bits sticking together.
  3. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry, add the almond flavouring and mix well.
  4. Add the sugar and almond mixture to the beaten egg whites and gently combine. It should have the consistency of a thick paste.
  5. Spoon by generous teaspoons onto a parchment-lined baking sheet about 5 cm (2 inches) apart and top each cookie with a whole almond, pressed gently into it. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool slightly on the sheet and gently remove to a wire cooling rack. Store in an air-tight container separating rows with parchment paper. Or freeze.

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The thing that’s quite a challenge in Vegan baking is not being able to use eggs. I can understand and convert recipes to use Vegan margarine or even substituting coconut oil but the egg thing is a biggy because of the science behind the egg’s participation in the recipe. At first I avoided egg recipes because they are just too difficult to convert but then the blog Vegan Baking came to my rescue, again. Although this recipe does not contain eggs the next one will. Substituting coconut oil for butter was an easy conversion because the cookie already had coconut in it — it was a no brainer. True Anzac lovers might miss the butter, but if it means not being able to indulge at all, I think it’s worth the slight difference in flavour. I hope you like it too.

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I wasn’t disappointed with the coconut oil substitution.

Vegan Anzac Biscuits

Makes about 22 cookies (I used a 4 cm ice cream scoop)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup flaked quinoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoons Lyles Golden Syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus a bit baking soda
  • 1/8 cup boiling water

Directions:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350° F (177° C)
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment or some other non-stick surface (this is a greasy cookie).
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, flaked quinoa (I ran out of oats!), sugar, and coconut oil and stir well with a wire whisk. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt coconut oil with syrup. (I do this in the microwave on 30% so the oil does boil over and make a mess)
  5. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water, and add to butter mixture. Stir to combine. (Be careful; if the oil is hot, it will bubble up considerably.)
  6. Add oil mixture to dry ingredients, and stir to well combine. This will be a very crumbly mixture.
  7. Using a 4 cm ice-cream scoop (be sure to pack the scoop tightly so the mixture doesn’t crumble), drop onto prepared baking sheets, about 4 cm apart. Flatten cookies slightly with the palm of your hand.
  8. Bake until bottom and sides golden brown and firm but not hard, about 10-12 minutes (larger cookies will take longer). Coconut oil seems to have a lower burning point so watch because they’ll go from raw looking to too dark in an instant!
  9. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
VeganAnzac_4201

It’s still the same chewy texture we’ve all come to know and love.

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Happy Mother’s Day to all! Hope it was lovely.

JT and I babysat my 13 year old nephew, Jack and my 10 year old niece, Annie on a recent weekend while their parents went to the Caiman Islands for a benchmark birthday party! We had a great action packed weekend filled with a visit to the High Park Zoo, bowling at Lucky Strike, cake decorating and cookie baking. Jack had his head burried in his laptop or smart phone at any given time; surprisingly he was not playing games, but monitoring a help desk he set up.

At the zoo, we were very lucky to see the 1 month old baby Wallaby, hoping along side of Mama (he/she even crept back into Mama’s pouch)! And we reacquainted with the Lama that was born last year. Lots of great things to do at this quaint little zoo — chickens to hold, bunnies to pet and Capybaras to feed, and best of all, it’s FREE! If you’re in Toronto, take the kids to High Park, in addition to the zoo, there is an amazing Jamie Bell Adventure Playground that was recently rebuilt due to vandals burning it to the ground (hundreds of volunteers and a celebrity contractor rebuilt the castle, click here to read the article).

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The baby Wallaby and Mama drinking water. Shortly after this photo, the baby crawled back into Mama’s pouch.

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Annie feeding the baby lama. He had such an adorable face.

He really was having fun, even though he hid it well.

He really was having fun, even though he hid it well.

But even after bowling, the weekend wasn’t complete without some quality kitchen time. We wanted to take a cake over to Grandma and Papa’s as a get well gift for Grandma who recently had an operation, so I baked two vanilla slab cakes (well, that’s not the fun part) and Annie cleverly decorated both, one as a gift and one for dessert over the weekend — which was thoroughly enjoyed!

Getting ready to decorate the cakes.

Getting ready to decorate the cakes.

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With everything going on, I didn’t have time to make the icing, but the cake was home made.

This cake was for Grandma and Papa.

This cake was for Grandma and Papa.

This one was for us!

This one was for us!

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We ate al fresco all weekend, which was a HUGE contrast to this past weekend when it SNOWED! Yes, you read that correctly!

We also baked the easiest Peanut Butter Cookies we’ve ever made and I thought I would share them with you because they are gluten free!

The Easiest Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies EVER (recipe from Kraft)

Makes about 24 medium-sized cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter (UPDATE) I made these cookies again using all natural peanut butter and they turned out perfectly. I won’t be buying Kraft again for this easy and tasty cookie. Take into consideration how oily the natural pb is, the last batch I made (2015) was excessively oily so I upped the sugar to 3/4 cup).
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • Optional 24 milk chocolate wafers

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients together until well blended (no need to drag out the hand mixer, just mix well with a spoon).
  3. Roll into 24 balls and place on parchment paper about 4 inches apart. Flatten with fork (or with a flatten with a milk chocolate wafer pressing it into the cookie).
  4. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly brown. Do not over bake. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and transfer to wire racks. Cool completely if you can resist eating.
CookieMaking_4538

Cookie making is serious business.

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Batch one, traditional peanut butter cookie.

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Annie claimed that we had mice because the cookies kept disappearing.

Cookie batch one.

They were so successful, we made another batch the next day.

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Delicious PB and Chocolate, what’s not to love? I didn’t have quite enough Kraft PB so I used a couple of tablespoons of natural crunchy PB I had on hand. Next time, I’ll try it all with the natural stuff.

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I thought I had my workout in the gym today. That’s what I thought when I got home and prepared to go for a walk around the hood and admire the changing leaves before they are all on the ground. I was wrong. As I went into the kitchen for a glass of water (the wine would come after the walk) I noticed the hardwood in front of our wine fridge was buckling a bit. No problem, I’ll just pull out the fridge and see what’s going on. I should have waited for JT to get home because clearly I was in the ‘blue job’ territory. But I just couldn’t help myself, I’m like that. I discovered that the fridge didn’t budge; oh no, it must be buckling under it and catching the little feet. Oh no. Now THIS is a challenge. Some brains and some brawn (and some good old fashioned Eastern European sweat) I managed to get the fridge out and the boards cut out (with my handy Dremel tool, which I use about once every four years). BRING ON THE DYI, I’m freakin’ READY! Tomorrow I’m ripping out tiles from the stairs and I’m cladding them in wood!

Fortunately, there was no water or even wetness below, so there is relief because if you’ve ever had a water leak, it’s almost impossible to figure out where it’s coming from. But now the question is, why did the boards buckle? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Doing manual labour like that inspires me to bake. Fortunately, my friend’s (boss, neighbour) daughter’s after school program is having a bake sale and since my friend (Kim) doesn’t bake much, I told her I would bake some cookies for the sale. I ended up making some old fashioned ginger snaps from my recipe from last Christmas, but then I saw a version Zsusza’s delightful cookie and was immediately drawn to it. I loved the way the cookie crackled on top. Well the kid got two batches for the bake sale (maybe a few were set aside!). I made a few alterations to the recipe, so please pop over to Zsuzsa’s blog to see the original recipe, I didn’t have nutmeg handy so I substituted allspice and I also added an extra teaspoon of dry ginger as well as a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger. It makes for a lovely warmly spiced cookie. And baking cookies is a hell of a lot easier than pulling a stuck wine fridge out of its spot.

They are soft and chewy on the inside

Old Fashioned Molasses Spice Cookies

Makes about 30-36 cookies (if you don’t sample the cookie dough)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp dry ginger
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 large egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to (175°C) 350° F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt; set it aside.
  4. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the shortening and sugar until fluffy.
  5. Beat in the molasses, egg and the freshly grated ginger and beat on low speed until just combined.
  6. Stir in the flour mixture.
  7. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.
  8. Using a melon baller, form the dough into 19 g balls.
  9. Place the balls leaving at least 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (baking more will cause the cookies to be hard)
  11. The cookies will be very soft when you take them out of the oven but they will harden up as they cool, then transfer to a wire rack.

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Hello everyone! Christmas Baking is over for the time being and I am quite happy with the results; there is a lovely variety of old and new favourites and I am excited about putting my gift boxes together for our friends and family. I still have a dessert to bake for Christmas Eve which we usually enjoy at my brother’s house (it will likely be a bûche de noël because that is what my family has done for years, and I just saw Charles’ at Five Euro Food which made me very excited to make it again!).

Here is a little synopsis of my Christmas baking over the years (not that I only started in 2007, but that is when I started to blog!).

In 2007 we had our Renovation party so I didn’t specifically do the cookie gift boxes because we hosted about 50 friends and family at our renovation unveiling party and I catered the entire event (I had serving help which was great!).

I designed these invitations for our Renovation Unveiling Party in 2007

In 2008 I made 11 items but I didn’t take a photo of them 😦

In 2009 I made only 9 items but I bought lovely ceramic casserole dishes to package the cookies in as gifts.

In 2010 JT had a health setback and I just didn’t do much baking at all (he’s ALL GOOD now).

And here we are in 2011 and my list of cookies with links are:

I was able to find these really cute cookie boxes at the dollar store! I line them with parchment paper.

Holy Bat Man, that's a lot of cookies!

I package each cookie box in a zip-lock bag and freeze it until we see the people that I prepared it for!

Your cookie box is ready, when can you come over to pick them up?

I wanted to mention some of my blogging friends cookie recipes which I am certain are equally, if not better tasting then my own.

Katherine at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide has mastered the perfect Macaroon. And check out Ann’s Cooking Healthy for Me Coconut Macaroons that she baked from her well loved Better Home New Cook Book. And then of course, there is Barb’s Coconut Pyramids at Profiteroles and Ponytails which are just so darn adorable. And pop by Jessica’s site Kitchenbelleicious for a truly lovely Espresso Crinkle Cookie that just looks like it would melt in your mouth. And then there is fellow Torontonian Divya at Flavour Fiesta’s healthier Choc Coco Truffles with Cherries. There are so many great cookie recipes out there and so little time to try them all — that’s why I love reading all the wonderful blogs, I can try ALL of your cookies in a virtual sense and not gain an ounce! The beauty of technology.

How many cookies did you bake this year, and did you bake any special needs cookies?

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As I mentioned before, I met Barb at KPMG in the early nineties; after a year or so, Barb decided to move to Vancouver. JT and I had just bought our home in the upper beach in Toronto and had a vacant basement apartment. We had never had a tenant before so we thought it might be nice to see if we liked it — so, to help Barb save money for her trip, we offered the apartment as a short term rental at a very low rent rate. Barb loved the idea and we became room-mates of sorts for a few months. During Barb’s last Christmas party at KPMG, one of the much loved partners (Evelyn) discovered that Barb lived in our basement, and she blurted out in her adorable Irish accent: “Bargain Basement Barb!” The entire table howled with laughter and to this day she is known as Bargain Basement Barb (I can hardly wait to mention this story to her children — but I want to do it when they are old enough to remember! No need to thank me Barbie!). In fact, this naming convention carried forward to our two other tenants (another friend and then a relative) there was Lower Level Leanne and Also Atilla (pronounce “ulshow” it means beneath in Hungarian!).

Barb has long since moved back to Toronto and is happily married with two young active girls. I am not sure if this recipe came about while Barb was living in our basement (there were many cookies left at the top of the stairs while she lived with us), but she did include them in our welcome package in our hotel room at her wedding in Niagara-on-the-Lake. They have remained a favourite throughout the years. There is no argument that the chunks of chocolate are an extravagent addition but I am often out of my slab chocolate (it seems to evaporate, not sure how!!! ;-)) so I substitute chips. Still yummy!

Holy Batman, that’s a lot of chocolate

Bargain Basement Barb’s Ultimate Chocolate Chunk (or Chip) Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks (chocolate chips work too)
  • 8 oz milk chocolate, chopped into chunks (chocolate chips work too)
  • 1 cup of dried, unsweetened cranberries or cherries (option)

Directions:

  1. Prehaeat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line two heavy baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or by hand), cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  5. Beat in the vanilla.
  6. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together into a small bowl.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing until just combined.
  8. Fold in the chocolate chunks or chips.
  9. Using your hands, shape knobs of dough about the size of a large walnut into balls and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets (I prefer to use a 1″ dual handle ice cream scooper). Stagger the rows of cookies to ensure even baking.
  10. Bake 12 to 15 minutes for smaller cookies, 14 to 17 minutes for larger cookies, or until the tops are light golden brown. If the cookies are neither firm nor dark when they are removed from the oven, they will cool chewy and soft. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Can be stored in air-tight container for 1 week or freeze in a zip lock bag and defrost as required!

A yummy addition to our Christmas Cookie Baking Frenzy

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The oven is on, baking supplies are stock piled and I’m ready for my marathon baking for Christmas. I make little packages for all our friends and neighbours; each of two if you’re a couple, or four if you’re a team! I generally bake 10-15 things. This year I’m going to try to downsize, but it’s impossible to decide what to cut! Plus, what about all the goodies I’ve bookmarked from my blogging buddies recipes? …this can’t end well! I have a sweet feeling in my belly… 🙂
I’m starting the bake-off with the Mexican Chocolate Macaroons. These are coconut balls, flavoured with chocolate, Moroccan Cinnamon (I’m talking’ the real deal!) and a pinch of cayenne. They are baked until slightly crispy on the outside and chewy in the centre. Everything you dreamed a macaroon would be! And I can use up the egg whites I stock piled from the Crème Brûlée!

Mexican Chocolate Macaroons

Mexican Spiced Macaroons

Makes at least 44, but it depends on how big you make them! I use a very small guage ice cream scooper, it’s about 1 1/4″ in diametre. They do get a smidgen larger as they are baked.
Don’t be afraid of the cayenne in these macaroons, it adds just a little heat and it pairs perfectly with the chocolate. These cookies are moist, rich and chewy, with just a hint of warmth.

Ingredients

  • 14-ounce package sweetened coconut flakes
  • ¾ cup sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour or almond flour if making gluten free
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the coconut, ½ cup of the sugar, the flour, salt, ½ teaspoon of the cinnamon and the cayenne.
  3. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 15-second bursts, stirring between, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.
  5. Add the vanilla and egg whites to the coconut mixture. Use your hands to mix together until all the coconut mixture is moistened. Add the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly.
  6. Drop by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet. A small cookie or ice cream scoop works well if you want very round balls. Alternatively, you can shape them with your fingers. Sprinkle the cookies with the cinnamon-sugar blend.
  7. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the edges start to toast and the cookies feel somewhat firm. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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Szamárfül was a popular cookie during the second world war in Hungary; my  mom always said it was because it had no eggs, although it does have butter (I don’t really understand the rationale, were eggs harder to come by than butter?). And I am not entirely sure of where the recipe originally came from, it was handed down to me by my mother, she had entered it into her first computer using DOS in the early 80’s and had several printouts which I inherited (I can find no other reference to it on line).

I posted this recipe quite a few years ago (December 2007), and I really don’t care for the photo anymore, so I decided to re-post with new photos! Tonight I am making the cookies for my nephew (Jack, 11) who adores them — we’re spending Canadian Thanksgiving with his family at their cottage this weekend. His Dad (my brother) is an amazing cook, but hasn’t mastered the art of baking, so every Thanksgiving, I bring about one hundred of these cookies (and believe it or not, they polish them off, lock, stock and barrel!).

The recipe is really no fail, you just need a little patience. The cookie is a simple yeast dough, with a little butter. It is rolled to about 2mm thick, cut into circles, and a small dollop of jam is placed in the centre. You then take this round cookie and fold it in half, then you pinch the edges tight. The challenge in making these delicious cookies is to pinch them down so the jam doesn’t escape and ‘burn’ while baking. Of course, as children, we always LOVED this melted jam because it caramelized to a wonderful candy coating. The cookie’s sweetness comes from the European Jam (which is generally thicker and with less pectin than the North American jam) and the confectioners sugar coating once they are baked. They are not an overly sweet treat.

My Kitchenaid set up with the pasta rolling attachment

A few years ago, I discovered that the thickest roller on my Kitchenaid Mixer Pasta Roller attachment is really the best and only way to go — it gives you the most consistent thickness of dough, and it avoids over working it. The dough renders a beautiful, flaky cookie pastry.

This year, JT offered to help, so I set up two stations on the island, and while I ‘rolled out’ the dough, he cut, filled and pinched. I did my share of cutting, filling and pinching too…but this dough is like the fishes and loaves, it is never ending…you keep taking the leftovers and re-rolling them…never ending! I am so lucky he helped tonight, otherwise it would have taken me a couple of hours to finish (we were done in 45 minutes). He even said he had fun doing this with me :-). His cookies stayed closed better than mine!

Two workstations set up made the job go much faster
You see how the jam has caramelized on the edges? That is the best part!

Donkey Ear Cookies:

(Szamárfül) makes about 100-130 cookies (we used a 5cm round cookie cutter this time and yielded 102)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp quick rising yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water + 1 tsp sugar
  • 600 g flour (3-4 cups)
  • 240 g unsalted butter (1/2 lb)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
  • Thick European jam (we used cherry for this batch)
  • 1-2 cups confectioners sugar (for dusting)

Directions:

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water with sugar, proof for about 3-5 minutes.
  2. In an electric mixer with the scraper hook, mix butter and flour until crumbly. Change to dough hook.
  3. Add yeast and enough sour cream and knead with the mixer until a shiny dough forms.
  4. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 1/2 to 1 hr (you may also do this step in the fridge overnight if you won’t be making the cookies the same day. Allow the dough to get up to room temperature before you begin to work it).
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Roll out the dough into 1 mm thickness (or #1 of the Kitchenaid Pasta Machine) and cut with a 5-6 cm round cookie cutter.
  7. Fill each round in the centre with about 1/4 tsp of jam.
  8. Fold each circle in half and pinch edges really, really, really well (this dough has a tendency to pop open like a clam!).
  9. Bake at 350° F for 10-12 minutes (dough will be slightly golden), jam may have oozed out, it’s OK, really!
  10. Immediately put cookies into a large bowl with icing sugar and dust generously. Or dip each side into a small bowl filled with icing sugar.
  11. Remove to a wire rack and cool.
  12. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • You may half the dough recipe, I’ve done it several times and you yield about 50 cookies!
  • Dipping your finger in lightly beaten egg whites and running along the outer edge of the rounds before pinching them closed will help keep them closed tight while baking.

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My mom saw this being made on the show, and immediately tried it. With great success, she recommended it to me and I’ve been making them ever since. It’s a nice chewy treat.

Anzac Biscuits (recipe from Martha Stewart)

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Makes about 3 dozen

  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Lyles Golden Syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup boiling water

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, and coconut. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with syrup. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water, and add to butter mixture. Stir to combine. (Be careful; if the butter is hot, it will bubble up considerably.)
  3. Add butter mixture to dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice-cream scoop, drop onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart (be sure to pack the scoop tightly so the mixture doesn’t crumble). Flatten cookies slightly with the heel of your hand.
  4. Bake until golden brown and firm but not hard, about 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

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This recipe was handed down to me by my mother Éva Harsfai-Robinson. It is a traditional war time cookies (no eggs!) that are delicious and relatively economical as this recipe makes a lot. It is jam filled. Be sure to buy only European jam which is a lot less runny than the North American style!

donkeyears.jpg

Donkey Ear Cookies (Szamar Fulé)

Click here to print recipe

Makes about 130 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp quick rising yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water + 1 tsp sugar
  • 600 g flour (3-4 cups)
  • 240 g margarine (1/2 lb)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
  • Thick European jam
  • 1-2 cups icing sugar (for dusting)

Directions

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water with sugar, allow to bubble up.
  2. In an electric mixer with a dough hook, mix margarine and flour until crumbly.
  3. Add yeast and enough sour cream and kneed until a shiny dough forms.
  4. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 1/2 to 1 hr (you may also do this step in the fridge if you won’t be making the cookies the same day. Make sure you allow the dough to get up to room temperature if rising in the fridge).
  5. Preheat oven to 350F.
  6. Roll out the dough into 2mm thickness and cut with a 5-6 cm round cookie cutter.
  7. Fill each round in the centre with about 1/4tsp of jam.
  8. Fold each circle in half and pinch edges really really really well (this dough has a tendency to pop open like a clam!).
  9. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes (dough will be slightly golden)
  10. Immediately put cookies into a large bowl with icing sugar and dust generously.
  11. Remove to a wire rack and cool.
  12. Enjoy!

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Again with the mint…LOVE IT! This seems weird, and it is, but I have to tell you, it’s fantastic. Both JT and I were skeptical – really a lovely crunch and minty taste. Go for it, not expensive and easy!!!!

PeppermintBark (click to print)

Original recipe from Martha Stewart

Makes 36 pieces.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (7.5-ounce) package hard peppermint candies, unwrapped
  • 1 pound white chocolate, chopped (do not use chips)
  • 2 cups puffed rice cereal
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; line with waxed paper. Place candies in a doubled resealable plastic bag; seal, and wrap in a kitchen towel. Using a rolling pin or skillet, crush candies into tiny pieces. Sift to separate crushed candy from fine powder, reserving fine powder for another use; set crushed candy aside.
  2. Place white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in rice cereal.
  3. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet; using a spatula, spread evenly to a 1/4-inch thickness.
  4. Sprinkle with crushed candy; with a piece of waxed paper covering entire surface, press in gently. Chill until firm, 20 to 30 minutes (no longer, as candy will begin to soften).
  5. Peel waxed paper off. Break bark into 2-inch pieces. Store at room temperature in an airtight container up to 1 week.

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If you love chocolate and mint together, you will LOVE these cookies. But get the candy cane kisses now, because I think they are seasonal!

Chocolate Crinkle Kisses (Recipe from Anna) (Click to print PDF)

Makes about 3 dozen or more cookies depending on the size of each ball.

hersheykrinklekisses.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar

     

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

     

  • 1 tsp baking powder

     

  • 1 tsp baking soda

     

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

     

  • 1/2 tsp salt

     

  • 2 large eggs

     

  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

     

  • 1 bag of Hershey candy cane kisses (you’ll need just about 2 bags) – this cookie is also great with the Hershey caramel kisses.

     

  • Icing sugar

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter with the cocoa powder and sugar.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and vanilla into the chocolate mixture.
  3. Slowly mix in all the dry ingredients until combined.
  4. Stir in the chocolate Chips.
  5. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours (this is important so they don’t end up flat).
    Preheat oven to 350.
  6. Roll dough into a small ball 1 inch in diameter (I used a tiny ice cream scoop!).
  7. Pour icing sugar in small bowl & roll each ball to coat.
  8. Place on parchment covered baking sheet leaving about 2 inches between the cookies (great for clean-up!).
  9. Bake for 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven and put 1 unwrapped Kiss on each cookie (squish in the centre of the cookie, tip pointing up). Return to Oven for 2 minutes more of baking.
  10. Let the cookies cool on the sheet, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

 

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