Chocolate Irish Stout Cupcakes with Mint

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Mint - DInner Is Served

What an odd weekend it’s been. We moved our clocks forward and the tulips are up yet at the same time, Chicago is preparing for a week of…snow!  My beloved Chicago Blackhawks had a morning game which has totally thrown me off kilter, watching hockey while drinking coffee. My no longer baby girl turned 21 last week and came home beaming with her first ever purchase of a 6-pack of beer.  There’s corned beef in the slow cooker and in the midst of it all, I am BAKING!20170312_173311856_iOSGuess I just felt like I really needed a chocolate cupcake in my life right now.  And with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner why not add Irish Stout beer to the cake batter and chopped chocolate mint candies.  All topped with a minty white chocolate cream cheese frosting. I don’t bake often but when I do, there’s no holding back!20170311_205609733_iOSThese cupcakes and frosting are wicked easy to make and store well in the fridge so you can enjoy throughout the week, paired with a cold glass of milk or a little Jameson on the rocks 😉  I know I’m biased but in all seriousness, these are probably some of the best cupcakes I’ve had the pleasure of making and eating.

From my crazy kitchen to yours, be well, eat well and love lots!

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Chocolate Irish Stout Cupcakes with Mint

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup dark stout beer (I used Murphy’s stout)
  • 6 TBS salted butter
  • 4 ounces Ghiradelli® 70% Cacao Extra Bittersweet Chocolate
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 28-count box Andes® candies

For the frosting:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese at room temperature
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces Ghiradelli® white chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 teaspoon mint extract
  • Green sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cupcake pans with 18 liners and set aside.

Combine the beer, butter and chocolate in a double boiler (or, a metal bowl set atop a pan of simmering water). Stir the mixture until the butter has melted and about 3/4 of the chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and slowly add the sugar, stirring constantly, until the granules melt and the mixture is smooth.

In a large bowl, combine the sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until combined. Slowly add the beer mixture and beat till smooth.  Add in the flour and baking soda and mix until smooth.   Chop enough of the Andes® candies to make 1/2 cup (reserve rest for garnish), and stir into the cake batter.

Pour batter into prepared cups and bake for about 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about five minutes, then remove cupcakes and let cool at room temperature.

For frosting, beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Add softened butter and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the melted chocolate and mint extract and continue mixing until smooth.  Pipe or spread onto cupcakes and top with green sprinkles.  Garnish with a whole piece of Andes® candy.  Serve immediately or store cupcakes, covered, in the refrigerator.

Yield: About 18 cupcakes

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Perfect Little Lemon Blueberry Tartlets

Perfect Mini Lemon Blueberry Tartlets - Dinner Is ServedThings I am willing to fuss over for many hours or days: cassoulet; demi glace, a perfectly smoked pork shoulder. Things I can barely stand to spend more than 30 minutes preparing…. dessert.

Which is why these little tartlets are nothing short of perfect. Light and lemony and bite sized. Best of all, they fall well under my 30-limit prep time requirement.  In fact, thanks to two special “short cut” ingredients, they can be prepared in about 15 minutes, which alone makes me jump for joy.

The first special ingredient is store-bought lemon curd:

Perfect Mini Lemon Blueberry Tartlets - Lemon Curd

If you’re ambitious and a stickler for doing everything from scratch, homemade lemon curd is pretty wonderful (Ina Garten’s Lemon Curd recipe works well).  But of course then you’ll most certainly blow my “30 minute dessert” rule. For me, I am more than happy to go with whatever I can find in the store!

The second secret ingredient: frozen phyllo cups: Perfect Mini Lemon Blueberry Tartlets | Dinner Is Served

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love these shells. Just crisp them up in an oven or toaster oven, for five minutes and they’re ready to fill!  Having been brought to tears once in my pre-culinary school days after doing battle with some uncooperative phyllo dough, I am more than happy to take advantage of this convenience.

Armed with these two incredibly time-saving ingredients, preparation is very simple.  Just whip some heavy cream with a little bit of powdered sugar and vanilla, stir in the lemon curd, fill the cups and top with your favorite berries, a dash of lemon zest and a final sprinkle of sugar:Perfect Mini Lemon Blueberry Tartlets - Lemon Curd 2

Of course the fun is just begininning this recipe. You can substitute any kind of fresh berry, add a dollop of sour cream, a sprig of fresh mint. The lemon cream is also a very versatile ingredient. Spoon it over angel food or pound cake then top with mixed berries.  Spoon it over sweet biscuits and strawberries for an instant shortcake. Or layer it with cake and fruit in glasses and top with slivered almonds for a quick trifle.

The tartlets can be made several hours in advance and the lemon cream will hold for several days in the fridge. And if my family’s response to these last night is any indication: MAKE EXTRA!  They may take 15 minutes to make but trust me, they’ll disappear in a fraction of that time! Perfect Mini Lemon Blueberry Tartlets - COVER

Perfect Little Lemon Blueberry Tartlets

1 package (15 count) frozen Phyllo shells (I use Athens® brand Mini Fillo Shells)

1/2 cup chilled whipping cream

1 1/2 tsp powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup lemon curd (I use Dickenson’s® Lemon Curd)

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

Pre-bake frozen phyllo shells according to package directions and set aside

Place a medium-sized metal bowl and beaters in the freezer for about ten minutes. Then remove.  Add heavy cream to bowl along with 1 1/2 tsp powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  Beat until medium peaks form. Place lemon curd in a separate bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add curd to whipped cream.  Beat until well combined and smooth.

Spoon lemon cream into shells.  Top with fresh blueberries and lemon zest.  Dust with powdered sugar and serve*

Serves 5-7

*I think these benefit from chilling in the fridge about 30 minutes prior to serving. Can be made up to 8 hours in advance.  Cover loosely and refrigerate. Leftover lemon cream will keep for several days in the fridge.

Mini Eggnog Latte Cheesecakes

Mini Eggnog Lattee Cheesecakes | Dinner Is Served

 I am very close to my tipping point for holiday wining and dining.  Close but….not QUITE there yet.

With the end of 2014 right around the corner, I thought I’d go for broke with my last post of the year. Combining my most favorite December coffee drink: Starbucks Eggnog Latte with one of my most favorite desserts: cheesecake.  But rather than create one massive cheesecake, I decided to downsize with this adorable mini cheesecake version instead. It also gave me the perfect excuse to try out my new Norpro Mini-Cheesecake pan, a gift from a fabulous co-worker:

Norpro Mini Cheesecake Pan

My goal with my creation was to make sure there were elements of a real latte in every layer.  For the chocolate crust, that meant adding a little instant espresso powder: Mini Eggnog Latte Cheesecake | Dinner Is Served

And then adding some rich and sweet eggnog to the cheesecake layer:

Mini Eggnog Latte Cheesecakes | Dinner Is Served

Can we pause for a moment to praise the almighty workhorse in my kitchen that is my KitchenAid Stand Mixer? Mine is pushing about 25 years now. It has taken a licking and keeps on beating (and kneading, whipping, stirring, etc.)

KitchenAid Mix Master

 Ahhhh….ok now back to the cheesecake! What latte would be complete without some sweet whipped cream topping (remember this is our last hurrah so no cutting calories here). I chose to take the whipped topping one step further and add even more eggnog. The final cheesecakes get a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg and a sprinkle of some festive, pearly sprinkles (or “jimmies” if you’re from Boston).

If you are lacking in the “mini cheesecake pan” department, never fear. These can be baked in lined muffin tins that have been sprayed with non-stick spray.  You can also easily make a gluten-free version of this cheesecake by substituting gluten-free chocolate wafers for the crust and sweet rice flour for the batter.  And finally, if you get the urge to make these later in the year and fresh eggnog is not available, you can just substitute heavy cream in the batter and add a little eggnog syrup (available at Amazon.com) to taste.

I can’t think of any more beautiful or delicious way to end 2014. I’ll be back on New Years Eve with a look at this past year. Until then, eat, drink and be merry my friends!

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Mini Eggnog Latte Cheesecakes

Crust:

1 cup crushed chocolate graham crackers or chocolate wafer cookies

3 TBS unsalted butter, melted

1/2 TBS granulated sugar

2-3 tsp. instant espresso powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Cheesecake:

12 oz. Philadelphia Brand® cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup eggnog (see Note 1>)

1 TBS all purpose flour

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

Topping:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 TBS granulated sugar

2 TBS eggnog

Freshly grated nutmeg

White, pearly sprinkles (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a mini cheesecake pan using non-stick spray OR insert cupcake liners into a cupcake pan and spray.
  • In a small food processor (or by hand), combine the ingredients for the crust. Place a heaping tablespoon into each cup, lightly pressing down using a spice jar wrapped in plastic wrap (see Note 2>) Bake for 5 minutes.
  • For cheesecake filling, in a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together sugar and cream cheese. Add eggnog, flour, vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Mix at low-medium speed just until blended (do not over mix). Scrape down sides of bowl then add egg and beat only until combined. Spoon filling into cups, filling each about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until centers are slightly jiggly. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour. Note that the centers of the cheesecakes will deflate while cooling.  Do not worry!  The whipped cream will cover any sunken parts or other imperfections! Transfer to a refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Before serving, prepare whipped topping. Chill a mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for 15 minutes then remove. Beat together whipping cream and sugar until stiff peaks form.  Add eggnog and beat just until combined. Unmold cheesecakes (if using the mini cheesecake pan). Spoon or pipe whipped cream onto the top of each cheesecake. Top with freshly grated nutmeg and sprinkles and serve.
  • Yields: 12 mini cheesecakes

Note 1> If eggnog is not available, substitute 1 cup of heavy cream and flavor it with some eggnog syrup (available online)

Note 2> for an even crust, wrap some plastic wrap around the bottom of a spice jar and use it to tamp down the cookie crust layer:Mini Eggnog Latte Cheesecake | Dinner Is Served

Meyer Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Meyer Lemon Blueberry Muffins | Dinner Is Served

If you know any cooks or bakers (or you yourself fall into one of those categories), then you know that often, people describe themselves as either a cook or a baker.  Now I’ve known plenty of people who excel at both, but even then, if you ask, they tend to identify more closely with one or the other.  As for me, well just look at my blog stats: over 140 recipes, only a few of which are dessert.  Baking is, well, just not my thing!

Could I write a mini novel about the reasons for this? You betcha!  There would be a chapter about culinary school and my station buddy in pastry class who could form a perfect pie crust in 60 seconds while I fumbled with a crumbled mass of flour and shortening. And another chapter on my inability to tell baking soda and baking powder apart.  The fact that I have about two feet of counter space in my kitchen, barely enough room to cool a dozen cookies.

You get the idea.

Yet once in a blue moon, there arises a “perfect storm ” of sorts.  I get a little craving for a muffin or a quick bread.  I happen to have all the ingredients on hand.  I happen to have a spare hour on my hands.  And voila, next thing you know I’m pulling warm, melt in your mouth muffins out of the oven on a grey Saturday in February.

A quick note about the skill level needed to make these muffins which, on a scale of 1-10, is about a “2.”  There is no creaming, rising, alternating, blah blah blah.  Just mix the dry ingredients in one bowl.  Mix the “wet” ingredients in another.  Combine them (barely).  Done.  Ok, even I can manage that.

I did change up the original recipe from Cooking Light a bit because I happened to have a bag of Meyer lemons on hand, and I do prefer them for baking (they’re a bit sweeter/more subtle than regular lemons)Meyer Lemon Blueberry Muffins

I also happened upon a ginormous box of blueberries at Trader Joes, so before my son could devour the entire package, I saved one cup to use in the muffins.  Blueberries + lemon = match made in heaven.

The result were incredibly soft, delicate little bits of sunshine.  Not overly sweet or heavy.  Just perfectly moist and with a beautiful little sugary crunch on top courtesy of the raw sugar.  They’re made to go with a cup of tea in the afternoon, with your morning latte or even after dinner with a splash of Limoncello.

Just for the record, I’m still a cook, not a baker.  Although for this one afternoon, I admit crossing over to the other side was rather enjoyable.

Meyer Lemon Blueberry Muffins*

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated Meyer lemon rind <or conventional lemon>
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice <or conventional lemon>
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado <aka “sugar in the raw”> sugar

Preparation

  1.  Preheat oven to 375°.
  2.  Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; make a well in center. Combine ricotta and next 5 ingredients (through egg). Add ricotta mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
  3. Gently fold in 3/4 cup of the blueberries.
  4.  Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups; coat with cooking spray. Divide batter among muffin cups. Top each muffin with a few of the remaining 1/2 cup of blueberries.  Sprinkle turbinado sugar over batter. Bake at 375° for 16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

Yields: 12 muffins

* Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

Gram’s Apricot Bars

Gram's Apricot BarsMy timing on this is not great because as I post this, you’re probably all drinking detox smoothies and swearing off of sweets for at least a few weeks, if not forever.   Either that or you’re growing weary of the recycled and regifted tins of cookies that make the rounds after Christmas.  I swear they multiply overnight on my kitchen counter.

Well anyway, I just love these little chewy and crumbly bars so much.  They were one of my maternal grandmother’s specialties so I have a sentimental attachment to them.  I need to share this recipe with you, if for no other reason than to just put it out there in cyberspace for all eternity.

Last week I was making a batch for Christmas and the thought crossed my mind:  I could add a little ground cinnamon, or nutmeg and perhaps they would be even better or…  perhaps substitute cherry preserves for the apricot.  So tempting to always change a recipe.  But in the end, I left as is.  And when I tasted that first little bite, it was just like gram’s.  What on earth what I was thinking?

I’m not changing this one, not one single bit.

So in spite of my blowing the holiday baking deadline, I will say they really are perfect any time of year.   They can be served for tea time,  bake sales, new neighbor welcoming, and hostess gifting.  I’ve even been known to enjoy one for breakfast now and then!

Now on to planning the NYE feast!

Gram’s Apricot Bars

1 cup brown sugar

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ cups quick-cooking oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

¾ cup butter — slightly softened (see Note 1>)

1 cup apricot jam (see Note 2>)

Preheat oven to 350°F.   Grease a 9×13″ baking pan and set aside.

Combine brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking powder in a large bowl.  Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in butter to a crumbly consistency.  Line the prepared baking pan with 2/3 of the crumb mixture, pressing lightly.   Heat jam in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring, until liquid and warm enough to spread, about 1-2 minutes.  (Or alternatively, pour jam into a glass measuring cup and microwave until warm enough to spread, about 30 seconds).  Spread jam evenly over crumb mixture.  Top with remaining crumb mixture.

Bake for 35 minutes (top should be light golden and bubbly).   Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Cut into 1 1/2 -inch squares and store at room temperature in an air-tight container.

Yields: About 48 1-1/2-inch squares

Note 1> If using unsalted butter, then add a pinch of salt to the brown sugar/flour/oat mixture.  Also, for this recipe, I usually just leave a stick of butter out at room temperature for about 30 minutes and find it is the perfect consistency for blending.  DO NOT OVER SOFTEN THE BUTTER, or bars will not have that nice, crumbly consistency.

Note 2> Just because I like to keep this recipe “as is” doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with it!  Definitely try different types of jam in the middle layer: raspberry, cherry, blueberry or apple would all be great substitutes!

Sticky Maple-Pecan Bars with Maple Bourbon

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A funny thing happens to me when Fall arrives:  I suddenly get the urge to bake.  I think one November a few years back I even made a pie.  That’s like, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing for me.

I suppose the change in the weather is one reason for this.  I mean, who wants to have their oven going on a 95° day in August.  Not me!  But the other reason, I believe, lies in the flavors of fall: apples, pears, nuts, pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves… I love these ingredients, so the fact that I want to bake with them makes a ton of sense.

These maple pecan sticky bars  celebrate the flavors of this glorious season, with their buttery shortbread crust, maple-y filling and toasty nut topping.  I always thought they were pretty close to perfect as is.  Until yesterday when I spotted this at the store:

Jim Beam Maple BourbonAre you kidding me?  Maple bourbon?  Where has this been all my life?  I seriously want to add it to everything and my maple pecan bars were THE place to start.   These are like, jump in a big pile of leaves kind of good.   Like drinking hot apple cider by a bonfire kind of good.  Awesome little treats for tailgating, pumpkin carving parties or even Thanksgiving.  Happy Fall baking one and all.

Maple Pecan Sticky Bars with Maple Bourbon from Dinner Is Served

Sticky Maple Pecan Bars

with Maple Bourbon

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tsp Jim Beam Maple Bourbon
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

For crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9x9x2-inch metal cake pan. Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and egg yolk in bowl to blend. Add flour and salt; beat until moist clumps form. Gather dough together. Press dough over bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of pan. Bake crust until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool.

For filling:
Combine first 4 ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until butter melts and mixture is smooth. Boil filling 30 seconds. Remove from heat; mix in vanilla, bourbon, then nuts.

Pour hot filling into crust. Bake bars until filling is bubbling in center, about 15 minutes. Cool bars completely in pan on rack (filling will become firm). Chill at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.) Cut into 30 bars.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend from Dinner Is Served

memorial day 2013

 

So what’s on the menu at your house this weekend?  Ribs? Hamburgers? How about this very patriotic mixed berry trifle?  It comes together quickly with the help of store bought angel food cake.  I take no credit for this recipe so I’m sending you over to the Food Network site where the talented Sunny Anderson will show you how it all comes together.  Of course, I do like to tinker in the kitchen and in this case, I decided to add a little amaretto liqueur to the whipped cream layer and yum!!

Here is hoping your weekend is filled with good friends, food and family and a chance to take a moment to honor all those who have fought for our freedom. God bless them and God bless this great country.

 

Gram’s Double Frosted Brownies {almost} via Mel’s Kitchen

2013-02-27 11.44.24Two things I inherited from my maternal grandmother: 1) Her Windermere Wedgewood and 2) Her aluminum brownie pan.  As far as sentimental value, they are equal in my eyes.

Ironically two things I did not inherit from her: 1) Her extraordinary baking talent and 2) Her double frosted brownie recipe!

Oh how I remember those brownies, though.  Always made in her special aluminum baking pan with the slide-on lid.  Anytime that pan made appearance in our house, we knew what was inside.  Every piece, a little treasure, with a dense, truffle like brownie base, a thin layer of frosting and the pièce de résistance:  a thin bittersweet chocolate glaze.  

Why we never asked her to write down her recipe, I’ll never know.  My guess is she knew the recipe by heart and any copy she may have had was long gone.  The result was after her passing in 1991, no one in our family had a clue how to make these brownies…until my best new cyber food blogger friend, Mel came along.

I don’t actually know Mel, but I follow her blog, Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.  Last week she posted a little collection of recipes under the heading “Recipes the World Forgot.”  Low and behold, there appeared before my eyes a photo of THE brownies.  The world may have forgotten about this recipe, but I certainly hadn’t.  I’ve been in search of it for the better part of two decades!  Of course I wouldn’t know for sure until I had actually made them, which I did yesterday during a nasty snow storm.

Mel calls them “Magical Layered Brownies,” but as I discovered yesterday, they’re also my gram’s brownies.  Well, pretty close at least.  Close enough for me to be practically doing cartwheels in my pint-sized kitchen.  Little does Mel know, but she has filled a void in my culinary heart.  I must thank her profusely.  And now I would like to share it with the rest of all mankind.  Just click on this link: Magical Layered Brownies, and be one step closer to brownie nirvana.

My Gram would be proud to know her legendary brownies live on and her magic pan is bringing joy to all who see it sitting on the kitchen counter.

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Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies

20121130_132433-1I have quite a backlog of recipes to post here, but today I must put those on the back burner (no pun intended).  For I have two very important announcements to make:

1) Today I made these cookies.  As in, that is MY cookie in the photo.  MINE!

2) I am officially firing my oven

To understand how these two statements are related, you need to understand that I have spent the better part of my life as a failed cookie baker.  There is no need to recount every sad and sorry cookie disaster here.  Just trust me when I state that my failures have far exceeded my successes.  For that reason, I avoid cookie baking at all costs.  But, when one is faced with an invite to a cookie exchange, there is nowhere to run and hide.  Time to put on my big girl pants, roll up my sleeves, take a deep breath and throw caution to the wind.

Then, just as  I was poised to step off the baking cliff, came an offer I could not refuse from a good friend.  “Why don’t you all come over to my house, have lunch, and we can bake cookies together?”  My friend has a really nice, BIG oven.   My decision was instantaneous.  I quickly stashed my ingredients into a shopping bag, grabbed a bottle of liquid courage refreshment from the fridge and headed over to her house.

I’m telling you, I witnessed a miracle in her kitchen today that had nothing to do with the liquid refreshments we were enjoying.  My cookies magically appeared from her shiny Viking oven looking …. perfect.  No need to keep flipping the pans around, double the cooking time, peel the burnt bottoms off the parchment paper. I literally put them in, baked them for the recommended cooking time, and took them out.  I am not the problem, apparently.  But I certainly knew where to cast the blame.  Back home, there was a 12 year old, 30″ drop-in gas oven whose manufacture shall remain nameless, that had a LOT of explaining to do

Said oven is now cowering in fear, I can tell you.  Pleading for just one more chance to prove its worth.  Since it is the holiday season (and also because a new oven will likely run me thousands of dollars), I suppose I will give it a temporary reprieve.  Besides, any time I need to bake cookies, I know who to call!

Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chips), divided
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 candy canes or 16 red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies, coarsely crushed

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Stir 2 cups chocolate chips in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Measure 2/3 cup melted chocolate; transfer to small metal bowl and reserve for drizzling.
  • Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy. Add sugar and both extracts; beat until smooth. Add eggs; beat to blend. Beat in melted chocolate from medium bowl. Add dry ingredients; beat just to blend. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Measure 1 level tablespoonful dough; roll dough between palms to form ball. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies 11/2 inches apart.
  • Bake cookies until cracked all over and tester inserted into center comes out with large moist crumbs attached, 8 to 9 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment paper to racks to cool completely.
  • Rewarm reserved 2/3 cup chocolate over small saucepan of simmering water. Using fork, drizzle chocolate over cookies. Immediately sprinkle with crushed candy canes.   Chill just until chocolate sets, about 20 minutes. 

Yields: About 3-4 dozen cookies, depending on size

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Snickerdoodle Cookies


And now back to blogging.  Think it’s a marvelous day to whip up a batch of cookies and this time let’s throw in a little something extra.  Say, like Savory Spice’s Pumpkin Pie Spice!

This blend is a fragrant combination of Saigon cinnamon, Indonesian cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace, allspice and cloves.  Its aroma is intoxicating and its uses are countless.  From the obvious (pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, squash soup) to the not so obvious (add it to coffee grounds, sprinkle on baked sweet potatoes, French toast or into pancake batter).   When I spotted a pumpkin snickerdoodle recipe online a few months ago, I just knew this spice blend would be a perfect addition.

I recently read an article online which proclaimed pumpkin as “the new bacon.”  In other words, pumpkin is everywhere now!  If you’re in doubt, stroll through the aisles of Trader Joe’s and you’ll spot all things pumpkin, including tea, waffles, ale and even dog biscuits!  Unlike bacon, however, canned pumpkin is actually quite a healthy addition to any dish.  It adds richness, color and flavor without the bad stuff.  These cookies have just the right amount of pumpkin and the spices make them sparkle.  Soft and light, not too sweet.

Sugar and spice and all things nice ♥

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Snickerdoodle Cookies

For the cookies:

3¾ cups all-purpose flour

1½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

3/4 tsp Savory Spice Pumpkin Pie Spice (or 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

¾ cup pumpkin puree

1 large egg

2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the coating:

½ cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp Savory Spice Pumpkin Pie Spice (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/2 tsp ground ginger + dash allspice)

Blend all the ingredients for the coating and spread onto a plate; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.  Whisk to blend and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the pumpkin puree.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until incorporated.  With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.  Cover and chill the dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.  Combine the sugar and spices for the coating in a bowl and mix to blend.  Scoop the dough (about 2½ tablespoons) and roll into a ball.  Coat the dough ball in the sugar-spice mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough to fill the sheets, spacing the dough balls 2-3 inches apart.  Dip the bottom of a flat, heavy-bottomed drinking glass in water, then in the sugar-spice mixture, and use the bottom to flatten the dough balls slightly.  Re-coat the bottom of the glass in the sugar-spice mixture as needed.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until just set and baked through.  Let cool on the baking sheets about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  Store in an airtight container.

Yields: 3-4 dozen cookies