Category Archives: Cookies

Pretzel Lovin’, Havin’ a Blast


I like pretzels.

I’m still living. Uber busy, but living. Attending class for 6 hours a day for four weeks to knock off 10 hours of college credits is a lot of work.

But it’s all worth it. Kind of like biting into a wonderfully salty and deeelish pretzel. I love pretzels. I’m obsessed. I bought a 1 pound bag of pretzels every week for six weeks in my first quarter of school, and yet Freshman 15 didn’t touch me. I’m not going to question this. I’m going to gloat.

So I got to thinking, “Sweet and salty, sweet and salty.” and thought, why not put them into my chocolate chip cookies! Seemed simple enough, it was, and boy howdy, it was lovely.

All I did was substitute half of the chocolate chips for broken pretzel pieces and continued on in hopes of becoming America’s Next Top Model.

What? Oh, sorry. Different topic…

I baked them according to the same parameters.

A pretzel is like a little heart, showin’ some lovin’. Enjoy these!

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies
Follow the same recipe and instructions listed in This Post, substituting 1 cup crushed pretzel pieces for the chocolate chips. Flatten slightly and top with a whole pretzel prior to baking.

Happy Baking!
Clara

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Millionaire Bars


I had heard about Millionaire Bars once before. I was watching a show on Food Network, and one of the chefs made the treat because she went on a trip to Scotland or Ireland, and those were the most popular thing that they had at one bakery there.

I don’t know exactly who or when it was, but she made a weird statement saying that she reserved one suitcase for them for the flight back. Interesting. But either way, these have stayed in my head ever since then. I’ve always wanted to make them! It gives me a chance to make three of my favorite things: Shortbread, Caramel, and Chocolate Ganache.

First, just make the shortbread by combining a 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. of sea salt, and 1 stick of unsalted butter (cold). Cutting it up with the pastry cutter until it looks crumbly.

Then cut in about 2-3 tablespoons of milk, or until the dough forms a crumbly ball. Then you just pat it out onto a 9″x9″ square baking pan lined with some parchment paper, then dock the dough with a fork! Then bake it for about 20 minutes, or until its golden on the edges and slightly firm in the center.

Let it cool completely while you work on your caramel!

Don’t post pictures of making the caramel. Its against my religion.

Just kidding, I forgot to.

But make it…and pour it on top.

I sprinkled some sea salt on top to give it that extra bite of saltiness to offset the sweetness of the caramel. Makes for a neat picture!

I waited for about an hour before I made the ganache. I stuck the caramel and shortbread in the freezer so it would firm up a bit. Soften the chocolate a bit in the microwave, just to help it along. No stirring required while you work on your cream.

Its an ocean of cream! Let’s get a boat! I’M ON A BOAT.

No I’m not.

Let it sit for about two minutes, then whisk or stir with a fork until the ganache becomes smooth and combined. Add vanilla and espresso powder to the concoction…

Then pour it on top of the caramel. After this, just let it set for a few hours in the fridge and cut up the bars at the end of it all!

And there you have it! Now you can feel affluent with these millionaire bars! Give em a go!

Millionaire Bars
Ingredients
FOR THE SHORTBREAD
1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
1/2 C. All-Purpose Flour
1 Stick Unsalted Butter, cold, cut into cubes
2-3 scant T. Milk
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Almond Extract
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

FOR THE CARAMEL
From Land O’ Lakes: Aunt Emily’s Soft Caramels CLICK HERE
1 C. Granualted Sugar
1/2 C. Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1/2 C. Unsalted Butter
1/2 C. Milk
1/2 C. Heavy Cream
1/2 C. Light Corn Syrup
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

FOR THE GANACHE
1 C. 70% Cacao Chocolate Chips
1/2 C. Heavy Cream
1/2 C. Milk
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extact
1/4 tsp. Espresso Powder

Method
MAKE SHORTBREAD – Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9″x9″ baking pan with nonstick spray and parchment paper.
1. Using a pastry cutter, cut cubes of butter with powdered sugar, salt, and flour. Combine until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Cut in scant tablespoons of milk and extracts, or until the mixture can be formed into a loose ball.
2. Press mixture into prepared pan, making the layer even as possible. Use a fork to pierce small holes over the entire surface of the dough.
3. Bake until edges are golden and the center is lightly firm, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

MAKE CARAMEL –
1. Combine all ingredients except vanilla in heavy 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted and mixture comes to a boil (15 to 20 minutes). (Once the mixture comes to a boil, whisk consistently, as the fat tries to separate, and it has a higher chance of burning! I’m speaking from experience)

Continue cooking, until candy thermometer reaches 244°F. or small amount of mixture dropped into ice water forms a firm ball (about 25 to 30 minutes).

Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.

->Pour caramel over cooled shortbread and top with sea salt. Allow to cool in freezer for about an hour before continuing.

MAKE GANACHE-
1. In a large bowl, pour in chocolate chips and soften in the microwave for about a minute. Don’t stir.
2. Combine cream and milk in a measuring cup, heat until lightly scalding in the microwave. Don’t let the cream burn! About 2 minutes.
3. Pour cream over chocolate and allow to sit for a few minutes before stirring. Whisk or stir with a fork until smooth. Pour in vanilla and espresso powder, whisk until smooth.
4. Pour over caramel. Allow to set in refrigerator for at least 4 hours before cutting.

Enjoy!

Happy Baking!
Clara

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies. For Auld Lang Syne


Happy New Year, everyone! I hope everyone made some resolutions that aren’t too hard! I’ve always had those, but hopefully, this year’s will be better. It involves a few 5Ks and plenty of running, which is something I enjoy anyway, but I need to be inspired to get out and do it all. Thank goodness for the 5K next month! Its all about establishing new and healthy habits.

But just because I’m establishing new healthy habits, does not mean my rations of butter will lower. Oh heck no. That would be a whole different resolution which will never, ever, happen.

Speaking of healthy habits, on of my favorite commercials (okay, that’s a lie) is the one for Nutella. The one where the mother is narrating about how her kids don’t really like to eat breakfast, or are just disinterested in getting a healthy one. However, then she takes a relatively thin piece of whole wheat toast and slathers SO MUCH NUTELLA ON TOP, that was when they wanted to eat their healthy breakfast. I always giggle.

I first tried to formulate this recipe in Savannah, where I didn’t really have any measuring cups or as many special ingredients as I do on my trusty baking cart. While they were fine when I made them there, the more exact measurements and exotic ingredients upped the specialness of these cookies.

Simple said, simple done. I basically made this recipe structure similar to one that would would see on, say, a peanut butter cookie. Replacing the peanut butter with the nutella, the exchange was fairly similar. However, the dough gets very dry when the flour is incorporated, so, instead of one egg, I added two to the mix. Just like a chocolate chip cookie.

One of the more exotic ingredients is cavier. I used, you know, Beluga, but you can use any kind of caviar, or roe. You know, how us high-society folks do.

Just kidding, vanilla bean seeds. They add a special kick to it.

You know…a high-society kick…

Then add the nutella.

Pretty batter!

To mix in the chocolate chips, I actually poured the finished dough into a large bowl and mixed them in with my hands. The dough doesn’t stick to your hands, its totally fine and fun! Its just a very dense batter.
Then you roll the dough into balls about 1 1/2 inches in size, then bake!

I actually think that they turned out even better looking than the ones last time!

These were the first ones

Much better

Enjoy!

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients
1 stick Unsalted Butter
3/4 c. Nutella
1 tsp. Espresso Powder
1 tsp. Sea Salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 Eggs
1/2 c. Granulated Sugar
1/2 c. Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 C. All Purpose Flour
1 C. Bread Flour
1 1/2 c. Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

Method
-Preheat oven to 350 and prepare your sheet pan with parchment paper or a nonstick baking sheet. Whisk together flours, salt, baking powder, and espresso powder in a separate bowl.
1. In your mixer, mix together the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, while the mixer was running. Be sure to completely incorporate the eggs before continuing. Add vanilla bean seeds.
2. Add the nutella all at once and mix until completely combined, about 1 minute.
3. In three increments, add the flour and slowly mix to combine. Now, I found it easiest to mix in the chocolate chips by hand, the flour is almost dry.
4. Take the dough and roll it into balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for eight minutes, rotate pan, then continue until the tops of the cookies appear crackled in appearance. Allow to sit on pan for two minutes before transferring to the cooling rack to dry completely. Enjoy!

Happy New Year and Happy Baking!
Clara

PS: Like the new look??

Check it!


I wanted to show you the Christmas cookies that I slaved over for three days.

I made Christmas Trees

Snowmen…

Snowflakes!

And Santa himself!!

Err, make that Santas. I’ll tell you this, I’ll just offer the Christmas Trees, Snowflakes, and Snowmen to the big guy when he comes jingling on by. Gotta be hospitable! I’m sure it would be uncomfortable if he were to eat himself!

Ten dozen of these cuties! I’m so happy with them. In fact, I just want to start making them more and more, because I’m loaded with new decorating ideas! I’ll save them for other occasions though! Haha.

Oh my! Did he come early? Haha.

My methods were as follows, I made a regular shortbread and chocolate shortbread for the cookie cutouts, then made royal icing for the decorations. Starting with the firmer icing to pipe the outlines, and set aside some firm icing for the final touches, then made a flooding icing out of the rest to fill in the colors. On average, each batch took me three hours of decoration time (not counting baking), but it was vry therapeutic. My job isn’t too fun right now, so I took out all of my frustrations into the kitchen, making all of my Christmas presents and completing them in record time! Loved it!

Just follow the royal icin guidelines listed here: http://bakeat350.blogspot.com/2010/01/royal-icing-102-or-201-or-whatever.html
It is so helpful!

Happy Baking!
Clara

A Busy Week


I’m sorry, bu I have been tremendously busy this week. Between work and baking well over 10 dozen cookies to decorate and ship out before tomorrow (which means, I’m already late 🙂 ) and having my sister and her family come over last week to celebrate my neice’s 1st birthday and my mom’s birthday, I simply have not been able to post too well! But I will show you the party favors! Don’t worry, there will be posts this week, that’s a promise, I assure you. Because I have compiled a ton of pictures and they need to be shared!

I made French Macarons! With a vanilla and raspberry filling, I could have made he green minty, but I made it vanilla because I wasn’t sure as to how mint and raspberries would get along. It all sorted out just fine though. What I did was reserved the egg whites from the ice cream that I made and aged them, covered, in the refrigerator for 48 hours as opposed to 24 hours at room temperature, because I am freaky like that.

With a little pixie dust, (i.e. confectioners sugar and cocoa powder), these puppies really stood out.

Buuut, not quite as cute as this puppy.


And don’t worry, she wasn’t light on smashing the smash cake.

Mommy (aka, my sister, Christine) was there to confirm.

There we have it!

I’ll see you tomorrow!

Happy Baking!
Clara

Cookies N’ Cream Ice Cream: The Real Deal.


There’s this one ad for a sweetener that plays a song that is really rather catchy. I find myself singing along to it, because I was sitting on the floor wrapping presents because I volunteered to wrap them all (can you tell my thinking process yet?). Anyway, I found myself singing it to myself last night as I made ice cream and Christmas cookies and soooo many other fattening things, only to realize that I was still not finished. Do you know the song? It goes somewhere along the lines of:

I love you sweetness…
But you’re not sweet
You made my butt fat
You drove me insane
Self control down the drain

Catchy, until you find yourself thinking about it all the time. And THEN, they posted a new ad yesterday that used the same singer and the same first verse. However, when I started singing along, it CHANGED WORDS. Soooo annoying, I just wanted to sing along, but NOOO. Whatevs. Anyway, my purpose here is to show you that I made some delightful ice cream that, for once, is NOT the light version, but full on ice cream. It isn’t as scary as you might think it would be to make either, and it is sinful.

So, my sister, her husband, and her baby are spending the week here with us, so I decided to give her a call and say “Hey! I want to make you ice cream because I am in love with my ice cream maker yadda yadda yadda so whaddaya want?” Her response was cookies and cream and, oh, “Make it the real stuff, thanks.” Okay, game on.

Truth is, ice cream is very easy to make, the concept of cooking it is what freaks people out. Tempering the eggs, making sure they don’t curdle in the pan, and so on. It just requires attention, that’s all, let’s get started.

Measure two cups of milk and, pictured, heavy cream. There’s something rewarding about putting heavy cream into a large cup, you feel like a sinner, but its white, so you feel like an angel as well. What can I say? I’m spiritual like that.

What I did was place a cup of the milk and a cup of the heavy cream into the saucepan to scald, along with the vanilla bean and its scrapings. Delicious.

I discovered over lots of times of making custards and ice creams over the stove is when you’re at the right time of scalding, the top of the liquid will tighten a bit like this. I know its not necessarily considered a good thing to let a skin form from the heavy cream (because that’s all that that is, the proteins cookin’ a bit), but when you temper the eggs and whisk it all together, its fine. Not only that, you’re straining the custard when its cooked, so any solids (i.e. the skin, scrampled egg bits, vanilla bean) will not be in the final product. You’re okay.

Now, I did this before any of the heating, but you can do it while you wait. Take your egg yolks and whisk them with the sugar on high speed in your mixer (or with your arms and a nice whisk, that’s what I did. What a workout!) until they become pale in color and form ribbons.

Like that! I think that the extra air incorporated into the yolks and sugar makes them a lot easier and less-risky to temper. I’ve never had a curdled egg problem using this method. When the milks are scalded and steamy, ladle a little bit of the liquid into the eggs, whisking constantly, until they are pale and very liquidly, and at least half of the milk mixture is incorporated. Oh, and hot. Tempering eases the eggs into the high temperature rather than shocking them into…breakfast. Then, whisk the tempered eggs back over the stove. Then you whisk until it starts to thicken! I used an instant read thermostat and tested the custard at 175 degrees. Just keep whisking! We are cookin these eggs!

Now, to test, dip a spoon into the custard and withdraw, then swipe your finger over the back, if the unswiped area doesn’t seep into the clean area, then you’re ready. This is a French method of checking a custard, gravy, or anything thick. It is called Nappe which means To Coat. Basically, you dip a spoon, hold it vertically, it should be coated and should not run into the clean metal strip when wiped. Nappe!

It sounds like something you would say at a party. Like Opa!

Nappe!

After straining, mix the remaining dairy in and refridgerate, covered, for at LEAST four hours. We need to get this as cold as possible to ensure maximum smoothness!

I made some homemade oreos from Martha Stewart’s recipe (Click here) but you are totally welcome to use storebought. Just chop em up in various sizes, ranging from chunky to almost powdered. It ups the texture.

Then stir em in AFTER the ice cream is all churned up! That’s the key! Freeze, scoop.

I love you sweetness…

Cookies And Cream Ice Cream
Ingredients
2 C. Heavy Cream
2 C. Milk
2/3 C. Sugar
7 Egg Yolks
1 Vanilla Bean, scraped

15 Chocolate Sandwich Cookies Chopped in Various Sizes. Make sure that the largest size is smaller than bite size.

Method
Freeze your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I like to freeze mine at LEAST 15 hours beforehand.
1. Whisk egg yolks with the sugar until pale and form ribbons, set near the stove. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup cream and 1 cup milk with the scraped vanilla bean seeds and pod.
2. Over medium heat, scald the milk mixture until steaming and scalded, at least 140 degrees. Whisking constantly, ladle the milk mixture into the egg yolks, until at least half of the mixture is incorporated. Pour the tempered yolks into the saucepan and heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
3. Strain the custard into a bowl, then mix the remaining cream and milk. Cover, and chill for at least four hours, or until very cold.
4. Freeze in your ice cream maker according the manufacturer’s instructions until the mixture looks like its at soft-serve stage.
5. Stir in your coarsely chopped chocolate sandwich cookies (you can hold back on some if you want, but this is cookies and cream ice cream, it plays a part!). Pour the finished ice cream into a freezer container and freeze for at least four hours, until firm. Scoop and enjoy!

Happy Baking!
Clara

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like…

Christmas!

Heehee, well there is a lot of stuff getting ready to happen. This post coincides with tomorrow’s, since it is actually USED in tomorrow’s recipe! I’ll let you guys think and ponder about what the recipe is for tomorrow, I will tell you that it is seasonal, but also special. 🙂

Gingersnaps are a delicious part of the holiday season, I have personally become rather obsessed with ginger and its application in baked goods. Mm, but I will let you know that it was those as well as several other seasonal spices, even a rather unusual one, that let these particular gingersnaps sing. Or snap. Or sing and snap their fingers.

If cookies had fingers…

But they don’t, so let’s just drop what I just said from memory for forever and ever. Thank you.

I found this recipe on David Lebovitz’s website, though it is actually a recipe from a book that he had read. That’s a confusing analogy, so here is the link: There you go

The interesting ingredient here is the use of black pepper, which I hadn’t really seen before, but I decided to brave it out and give it a go. Maybe it filtered in with the other spices but, in all honesty, I didn’t notice it very much and was a bit disappointed. On the plus side, I used ingredients that the recipe did not call for, like nutmeg and ground cloves, to up that season’s cheer factor. Also, I substituted brown sugar for the granulated and added another 1/4 cup of molasses, for a deeper, richer flavor.

Let me know!

Chez Panisse Gingersnap Recipe
Ingredients
2 cups (280 g) flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
11 tablespoons (150 g) butter, salted or unsalted, at room temperature
2/3 cup (130 g) sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (80 g) mild-flavored molasses* (sometimes called ‘light’ molasses)
1 large egg, at room temperature

(NOTE: I substituted Golden Brown Sugar for the granulated and added 3/4 tsp. Grated Nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. of ground cloves. Also, I never rolled the dough and chilled into a log, then sliced, but actually dropped the dough onto the cookie sheets and sprinkled with sugar, they were fine that way, not too thin.)

Method
1. Stir together the dry ingredients.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter just until soft and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to beat until smooth, stopping the mixer to scrape down any butter clinging to the sides of the bowl.

3. Stir in the vanilla, molasses and egg.

4. Mix in the dry ingredients gradually until the dough is smooth.

5. Divide the dough in two equal portions and roll each on a lightly-floured surface until each is about 2-inches (5cm) around. Don’t worry if they’re not perfect; you can neaten them up in a second.

6. Wrap each in plastic wrap then roll them lightly on the counter to smooth them out. Refrigerate, or better yet, freeze the cookie logs until firm.

7. To bake, preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

8. Slice cookie dough into 1/4-inch (a scant 1 cm) rounds with a sharp knife. Dip one side and press firmly in a bowl of coarse sugar if you want (you can also use granulated sugar instead), and place sugar-side up on baking sheet, evenly-spaced apart. Leave a couple of inches, about 5 cm, between cookies since they’ll spread while baking.

9. Bake for 10-14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets midway during baking, until deep-golden brown. The cookies will puff up a bit while baking, then settle down when they’re done. Bake on the lower end of the range for softer cookies, and more for snappier ones, depending on your oven.

10. Let the cookies cool two minutes, then remove them with a spatula and transfer them to a cooling rack.

Storage: The dough can be refrigerated for up to five days, or frozen for up to three months. Once baked, the cookies can be kept in an air-tight container for a couple of days but like anything made with butter, of course they’re best the day they’re baked.

Happy Baking!
Clara