Monday, March 24, 2008

Peach Spelt Muffins

Free Image Hosting at <a href= I am starting to love baking with healthy ingredients. At first it was very hard to find recipes that used spelt as the flour and honey as the sweetener but as I started searching the internet, I realized there are a lot of bakers out there trying to reformat the processed ingredient recipes.

This is one of those finds. The original recipe calls for brown sugar but I bought some delicious buckwheat honey (which I highly recommend) and wanted to use it as the sweetener. So I dropped the brown sugar and adjusted the flour accordingly. I also sprinkled the tops of the muffins with Sucanat - unrefined cane sugar - which I just discovered last year thanks to my mom. It has a molasses taste and the crunch of sprinkles. This worked as the perfect topping for the muffins.

The recipe below has the adjustments for honey or brown sugar - and I also think whole wheat flour would work in this recipe equally as well. I also used almond milk instead of soy milk but either will work.

These were extremely flavorful and moist which sometimes is hard to find in a healthy muffin. Definitely give these a try.

Peach Spelt Muffins
Makes 16
2 Cups spelt or whole wheat flour (add 1/3c. extra flour if using honey)
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar or honey
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Cup Soymilk
1 Tbs Lemon Juice
1/3 Cup canola oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2/3 Cup Peaches, chopped (fresh or canned)
Extra Brown Sugar or Sucanat for sprinkling on top

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Whisk wet ingredients in a seperate small bowl. Fold gently into dry ingredients.
Fold in peaches.
Fill paper muffin cups 2/3's full and sprinkle with brown sugar or Sucanat.
Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

How To Use Up A Jar of Nutella

Free Image Hosting at I made Nutella cupcakes last week and managed to use up half the jar, which is a big frustration for me. Half a jar of Nutella is a big temptation. After all, Nutella was not a baking ingredient in my house when I first brought it home. It was spread on toast and I absolutely loved it. So to use up the jar, I had to find a new recipe, and quick.

There is a Nutella cookie recipe on this blog already but that wasn't what I was looking for. Instead I had the idea to replace peanut butter with Nutella in a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookie recipe I have in my files. This would hopefully make a soft and chewy cookie.

Turns out the Nutella easily replaced the peanut butter in texture but not in flavor. I always thought Nutella had a very strong cocoa taste but in cookies it all but disappears. That is not to say these cookies weren't good. Quite the contrary, I had many compliments. They were sweet and chewy but more in a soft shortbread sort of way. The real flavor was a buttery white chocolate taste with a cocoa background but they were delicious.

I don't have any comments on these cookies really. I used white chocolate chips but I think semi-sweet would work just as well. I also think pecans would have been a good addition but, like I have mentioned before, Josh doesn't like nuts in cookies so I omitted them.

Try these in place of normal chocolate chip cookies or if you have a half jar of Nutella looking to be used up.

Nutella White Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 2/3 cups flour
1 package white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets. Cream butter, sugars, Nutella, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda & salt.
Add eggs one at a time.
Stir in the flour and chips.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until set.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Nutella Swirl Cupcakes - Third Times A Charm

Some recipes must be wrestled with before they are any good to serve the public. Normally, I suggest doing this in the privacy of your own home but I had to use other people as guinea pigs for the first two disasters.

Let me preface this by saying that Nutella cupcakes are common in the blogging world and there are many variations floating around. The concept, in theory, should be easy. A vanilla cake batter swirled with Nutella to form a fudgy ribbon once the cupcakes are baked. Ok so onto the flawed attempts...

Disaster #1: I used a recipe found on the net and ended up with a greasy, bomb like poundcake cupcake with a soggy Nutella ribbon. Seriously rich and not good.

Disaster #2: I decided to use a vanilla cake mix (yes, I know - puritans do not be mad) and I used a name brand. Problem is, cake mixes are extremely light and fluffy and so the Nutella fell to the bottom of the cupcake like a rock and then burned onto the bottom of the muffin papers.

So I turned to my beloved Betty Crocker cookbook for the perfect yellow cake that would hold the Nutella into place. Sure enough, the cake that I picked was the right one - finally! - and the Nutella made these delicious fudgy ribbons in a cake that held together beautifully. Josh's office loved them and I am definitely going to make them again.


Nutella Swirl Cupcakes
24 cupcakes

2 1/4c. all purpose flour
1 1/2c. sugar
1/2c. butter, softened
1 1/4c. milk
3 1/2t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
3 eggs
1/2c. Nutella

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin cups with papers or grease lightly.
Beat sugar and butter until creamy.
Beat in milk, vanilla and eggs.
Stir in flour, salt and baking powder.
Fill each muffin paper with 2T. batter, or about one third full. Top the batter with 1t. Nutella and then top with another 2T. batter or until the papers are two thirds full.
Using the point of a knife or a toothpick, gently swirl the Nutella through out the batter.
Bake for 20 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Monster Cookies for Gertrude

Do you remember those Dairy Queen commercials? The ones for the Monster Cookie blizzard? Two monsters are working in a cookie factory and the one make a really hideous cookie with green M&M's "for Gertrude". I loved the commercials but I loved the blizzard even more. The cookie dough was an oatmeal and peanutbutter batter with chunks of M&M's. Josh and I craved the stuff and I vowed to find the recipe.

After a bit of a hunt, the recipe has been perfected and my Christmas baking would not be complete without these cookies. In fact, of all the recipes I make, these cookies are requested the most of all. Just be prepared for half the batter to be eaten before the cookies are even ready for the oven. Josh eats the dough by tablespoonfuls.

I think it is the very subtle peanutbutter taste that makes the cookies. Don't expect a typical Jif Peanut Butter taste with these. They taste more like an old-fashioned oatmeal cookie with a hint of peanut butter. They make a huge batch, taste amazing and, the best part is, they stay soft for weeks - if you can get them to last that long!

I made them with Christmas M&M's over the holidays and today, to celebrate spring and the beautiful weather we are having, I made them with Easter M&M's. Nothing to add to this recipe other than the reminder not to overbake! 10 minutes is all they need.

Enjoy, enjoy. These are amazing.

Monster Cookies
Makes 3 dozen

2/3c. butter, softened
1/3c. peanut butter
1 1/3c. brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2t. vanilla
1t. baking powder
1t. baking soda
1c. flour
2 1/2c. oatmeal
1c. white chocolate chunks or chips
1 1/2c. M&M's

Beat butter, peanutbutter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until creamy and light.
Stir in flour, powder and soda. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Stir in the oatmeal and white chocolate.
Carefully, with the mixer on low, or by hand, fold in the M&M's.
Make tablespoon size balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 1o minutes at 350 degrees

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Its A Muffin... No, It's a Chocolate Bar

One of my favorite blogs is by Peabody. The photos are gorgeous and the recipes are fantastic, This recipe, which reminds me of my favorite candy bar is from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. I am not sure how many people have had an Almond Joy in Canada. They are rather hard to find. I have bought mine in the States and loved every one. It is a coconut macaroon base, topped with two almonds and bathed in chocolate. Moist and chewy and so delicious.

Peabody made the bread version, and then I made it into muffins because they are easier to dish out in Josh's office. Plus it makes each one a mini bundt cake which looks fantastic and keeps the moisture in. I really wish I had a picture but we hurried them off to the office before I could take one. Just look at Peabody's picture and you will get the idea.

I did not use the glaze or the chocolate drizzle because I didn't have a ton of time. I am not sure the muffins even need them as they are so moist on their own and packed with flavor. Josh's office loved them and I will definitely make them again.

Almond Joy Muffins
Makes 24

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
¾ cup canola oil
¼ cup melted unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp coconut extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sweetened coconut
½ cup almonds, chopped or slivered
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine the first 6 ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat ingredients on medium speed for 2 minutes.
In a separate bowl, sift and combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Starting with the flour mixture alternate flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk and flour…in that order. Mix until just combined.
Fold in coconut, chocolate chips and almonds.
Pour into muffin tins that have been greased and floured. Bake at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Remove from oven and place on rack to dry. While muffins are still warm, brush on Coconut Glaze. When muffins are completely cool, drizzle chocolate ganache over the tops.

Coconut Glaze

1 cup sugar
½ cup water
1 TBSP unsalted butter
1 tsp coconut extract

Place ingredients into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil for about a minute. Turn heat off but leave saucepan on burner. Glaze muffins as instructed above.

Chocolate Ganache
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup heavy cream

Place chocolate into a bowl.
Place cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Once cream has boiled pour over chocolate. Let sit for 3 minutes.
Stir with whisk until smooth and glossy.

New Tasters, New Oatmeal Cookies

Free Image Hosting at <a href=So Josh has a new job - well not new anymore but new for me to talk about on the blog - and with it comes a whole new baking audience. I have sent Almond Joy muffins (which I forgot to get a picture of but I will post about eventually) and now I have sent Oatmeal Cookies. It's so fun to have people to bake for again, because my family can only eat so much. And I certainly don't want three dozen cookies sitting around the house.

I have never made this recipe before, but I really wanted to because oatmeal cookies are some of my favorite. They seem wholesome and are more substantial. I love the nuttiness that the oats bring and the way it mixes with creamy chocolate. This recipe has been floating around my files for awhile and I really love it except for one thing - the amount of oatmeal. Three cups was far too much and made the cookies stiff and a little dry if you forgot them in the oven for even a moment - which I did. So I will definitely make them again but the oatmeal should only be two cups.

I mixed milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips and raisins for sweet chewiness. Mix and match as you like, I know some people are raisin oatmeal puritans. There is also a teaspoon of cinnamon in the dough which added amazing subtle flavor and worked extremely well with the chocolate.

This recipe made a huge batch and was a big hit. I hope you enjoy...

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. butter
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. oatmeal
1 c. raisins (soak in boiling water for a couple of minutes & drain)
1c. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Cream wet ingredients for two minutes until light and fluffy.
Slowly add dry ingredients and combine.
Stir in oatmeal, raisins and chips.
Scoop by tablespoon and bake for 10 minutes on a greased sheet.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Some Spring In The Dead of Winter or Rhubarb Crumb Muffins

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usOne of my favorite stores is Planet Organic which has one of the largest frozen organic produce sections in my city. I always feel better buying frozen organic produce because I know that it is straight from the ground and into the bag - brown paper freezer bags even! Planet Organic keeps the frozen fruit very reasonably priced and I appreciate that because the chances of finding rhubarb in the dead of the arctic north winter is a big challenge and I assume that anyone who was smart enough to save some and freeze it will want to capitalize on their brilliance. Not so at this store. They even put it on sale in January and I stocked up. I figure by the time the strawberries come into their peak - and they are just starting to now - I will have rhubarb for Amanda's favorite Rhubarb Strawberry Crumb Pie.

In the meantime, I wanted to use up some of the copious amounts of rhubarb I bought at said sale, and muffins are the perfect way to do it. No one can resist a golden crumb topped muffin and that sour surprise of the rhubarb is a big hit in my family.

I found this recipe on Epicurious. They are by no means healthy, although I did split the white flour in half with whole wheat to continue my trend this year. I don't think the muffins were too dense or dry because of the rhubarb which moistened the middles. The one thing I will say is that the amount of crumb topping was way too much! In the recipe below I have printed the more accurate amounts that you will need.

We loved these muffins and I will continue to make them - hopefully with fresh rhubarb in the spring.

Rhubarb Crumb Muffins
Gourmet, April 2003

Ingredients for topping:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 lb fresh rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar

Ingredients for cake batter:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (or 1/2c. whole wheat & 3/4c. white flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter muffin cups and top of pan.
Make streusel for topping by whisking together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture forms small clumps.
For the batter, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until blended, about 2 minutes.
Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and milk alternately in 2 batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined.
Divide batter among muffin cups (each cup will be about half full).
Toss rhubarb with confectioners sugar and sprinkle batter with rhubarb, then crumble streusel evenly on top.
Bake in middle of oven until tops are golden and a tester inserted in center of a cake comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Roasted Cauliflower Corn Chowder

I have been missing for weeks and weeks. Life gets busy and blogging ends up on the back burner. That doesn't mean I have not been baking and cooking though. I actually made the Whole Wheat S'more Cookies again because they are such a big hit in my family.
What I tried this week, though, was this chowder. Josh and I wanted something very healthy and reheat-able for work. I like to make soup because the big soup pot makes enough for dinner and then three more lunches.

The recipe is from Shape and I find that they have very healthy recipes that actually taste good. Sometimes that is hard to do. What I loved about this soup was the rich flavors and how creamy it was, considering there was no cream in sight.

I am posting the altered recipe I used, as opposed to the origingal from Shape. I have been learning alot about how to make chowders that taste fattening, but really aren't and I didn't like some of the ingredients that Shape included.

So here are some tips I used:
  • Use a can of skim condensed milk for all the creaminess, and almost no fat. This is my new favorite ingredient in creamy soups. Just remember to add it at the end and not overheat it, or you will have curdling.
  • I roasted the entire head of cauliflower instead of half of it as Shape suggested. It added a real depth of flavor.
  • I didn't have fresh basil so I used 1T. of dried instead, which is not ideal but the fresh basil at my market did not look fresh enough to consume.

So enjoy this recipe. It was so delicious with a shaving of fresh Parmigian cheese on top and a crusty roll on the side.

Roasted Cauliflower and Corn Chowder
1 medium head of cauliflower
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
2/3 cup corn kernels (1 medium-size ear) - or one can corn kernels
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
12 ounces can skim condensed milk
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Separate cauliflower florets from the stem. Toss florets with olive oil and roast in oven at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes, or until slightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside.
In a large pot over medium heat, saute onions and corn in butter until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add zucchini, chopped cauliflower, thyme, salt and white pepper. Cover and cook for several minutes more, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat so the vegetables don't burn.
Add stock to pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, 20 minutes. Add the basil and milk, and adjust seasonings.
Transfer the soup in thirds to a food processor bowl and pulse so that the soup is slightly pureed with bits of vegetable remaining.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Whole Wheat S'more Cookies

Free Image Hosting at <a href=I mentioned in my last post that Bon Appetit has some whole grain recipes in this months issue. This is good news for me because I love to bake but I really want to start adding ingredients that are a little more wholesome and perhaps have some health benefits without tasting like cardboard.

Flour is a good way to change a baking recipe for the better. I find whole wheat flour to be nuttier and more filling, so not only does the baked good taste richer, it also only takes one serving to fill you up. The problem is in the density of whole wheat flour. After all, no one makes a chiffon cake out of whole wheat flour. It is heavy stuff! Every time I add it to cookies or muffins, I end up with a heavy product and the texture is not quite where it should be.

After looking over this cookie recipe, though, I noticed that the butter is melted before hand which definitely makes for a chewier cookie. The hope was not to have a "healthy" tasting cookie but a yummy, chewy cookie that no one would take a bite and say "these are different". That is rarely ever a good response.

The cookies have virtually no difference from any other chocolate chip cookie recipe I have made except for the 3 cups of whole wheat flour. The marshmallows and chips are still there, as is the sugar but you get the added flavor and benefit of a whole grain. So maybe this is a bit of a stretch in the grand scheme of healthy eating ... but I never said this cookie was for dieters!

I also cannot, in all honesty, say these would easily replace my beloved chocolate chip cookie recipe. The end result was almost like a bran muffin top. Cakey like a muffin but the ingredients of a cookie. Make sense? Don't get me wrong, they were delicious but just not what I was expecting at all. The marshmallows exploded a bit in the cookies, leaving gooey carmelized puddles and I used milk chocolate chips for creaminess although the regular semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips would go really well with the nutty flavor. I omitted the nuts, as usual, because Josh hates nuts in his cookies, and I don't think I would recommend using them anyway now that I know these taste more like muffins. I think the crunch would detract from the finished product.
So try them out and see what you think. Don't think healthier, think heartier.
Picture coming tomorrow!

Whole Wheat S'more Cookies
Bon Appetit, February 2008
3c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2c. packed brown sugar
3/4t. salt
1/2t. baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2c. buttermilk
1 T. molasses
1 1/2t. vanilla
1/2c. butter, melted
1 1/2c. milk chocolate chips
1 c. mini marshmallows
3/4c. coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 35o. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.
Whisk eggs, buttermilk, molasses, and vanilla extract in medium bowl. Whisk in butter.
Add egg mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until dough is evenly moistened.
Stir in chocolate chips, marshmallows and nuts.
Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart (about 12 cookies per sheet). Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until golden brown, dry to touch, but still slightly soft, about 15 minutes.
Let cookies cool on sheets 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool (cookies will firm up).
Can be made two days ahead.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Skinny(er) Salmon with Dill Sauce

What a cliche' - a healthy recipe at the beginning of the new year! I am sure blogs all over the globe are devoting themselves to cleansing the stomach after a good month of gluttony. Josh and I are doing everything in moderation but I did feel the need to get some healthy protein back in our lives.

For those of you who have never seen or heard of the Eat, Shrink and Be Merry cookbook (they have a television show as well as several cookbooks) think of it as remakes of all your favorite recipes with less sugar and fat. I love the humourous anecdotes in the margins and the recipes are easy and simple.

In this case I was craving a fattening tartar sauce to go with our salmon. Maybe even a dill cream sauce. This is where I decided to try a recipe I have looked at for quite some time and never followed through. Josh marinated the salmon in lemon juice whisked with dijon mustard and some chopped dill for about an hour before we grilled it on our indoor grill. I think marinating is always a good idea but we have definitely just thrown the salmon steak on as is and ended up with a good result.

The sauce was extremely easy and, except for the dill, used ingredients found in my cupboard and fridge all the time. The result was a tangy sauce that offset the salmon very nicely and we will definitely make again to replace our beloved tartar sauce. As much as the idea of low fat or fat free sour cream turns people off, I did not even notice the difference in the sauce once the other flavors were mixed in.

In the picture you will see some dark spots on top of the salmon and the white dill sauce. That is Josh's addition of chipotle hot sauce because there are very few foods he eats without hot sauce. Believe it or not, it was actually quite good on top although I am not sure I would recommend that addition.

As an aside, I just received Bon Appetit February 2008 today and it looks like I am not the only one who is looking at the lower sugar and lower fat options in recipes. There is a fantastic article on using whole grains in baking as well as a few articles on the slow food movement. Definitely worth picking up this month!

Hook, Line & Simple ... or Creamy Dill Sauce for Salmon
1/3c. light or fat free sour cream
2T. maple syrup
1T. dijon mustard or honey mustard
1T. fresh lemon juice
1T. minced fresh dill
1t. grated lemon zest
Whisk together all the ingredients and serve very cold over freshly grilled or broiled salmon.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Maple Sugar Cutout Cookies

I have another submission for my Christmas baking saga. I do apologize for the lack of photos. Seems in all the busyness of the holiday I did not snap as many pics as I normally would have. It's too bad because everything looked so good and I find recipes are more appealing with photos. However, you have to trust me on this one.

Sugar cookies are a Christmas staple around my house although I think they are awfully tedious for the end results. I have decided that picking one cookie cutter and sticking with it for the whole batch is sufficient. It eliminates the ultimate problem of keeping like sizes with like to avoid burning and then no one is fighting over who got the bigger cookie. So this year I made Maple Sugar Cookies and used a 3" snowflake cutter.

This recipe is one of the most delicious sugar cookies I have ever made. I do hesitate to use the word "Maple" in the title because, while there is both maple syrup and maple flavoring in the dough, neither came through all that much. There was a definite richness to the taste and I would say it is a cross between a sugar cookie and a Gingerbread cookie. When I opened the tin a week later, I was hit with the most amazing aroma.

One of my favorite features of the dough was how easily it rolled out. Even the third and fourth rolling of the scraps were no trouble at all. The tiny cracks, what few there were, easily rolled back together. I definitely doctored the amount of maple flavoring and the cinnamon. If you aren't a big cinnamon fan, I would consider cutting the amount in half again, although I already did quite significantly.

The one batch made 4 dozen which was plenty. They stayed soft for the first week and then were more on the crisp side. I loved them dunked in coffee and they definitely kept their flavor weeks later. This recipe is worthy of a card in my recipe box and is now a Christmas staple in my house. I hope it will be in yours as well.

Maple Sugar Cutout Cookies
2/3 cup softened butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3 T. maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp maple flavoring
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
In a large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg, maple syrup and vanilla.
Blend in cinnamon, flour, baking powder and salt until well mixed.
Divide dough in half and chill for 1/2 hour.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease two large cookie sheets.
On a lightly floured surface, working with half the dough at a time, roll 1/8-inch thick. (Have some flour on hand to dip cookie cutter into.)
Dip cutter into flour and cut dough into shapes.
Using a metal spatula, place cookies 1/2-inch apart on cookie sheets.
Reroll trimmings and continue to roll into shapes.
Bake 8 minutes or until very lightly browned.
Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Cranberry Pecan Drop Cookies

Free Image Hosting at <a href=I am always very excited to try new recipes at Christmas. In fact, very few items on my baked goods plates are tried and true favorites. I think it would be much smarter for me to make the same dozen items every year, but it is always so satisfying to try something new and have people love it.

Such is with this recipe. This was the perfect addition to my repertoire as I tend to make everything very sweet and full of chocolate. This cookie is the opposite entirely. It is not sweet really at all and the tart cranberries and chopped pecans were such a fantastic combination with the bourbon.

I ended up making a mistake somewhere along the way and had to reconfigure how the cookies were formed, yet I think they turned out better than the original would have. I think they were supposed to be more shortbread or sable - like. The dough was to be chilled and rolled into a log, then sliced. Well my dough was sticky and soft and perfect for a drop cookie. I was impatient as always and just scooped it into tablespoon balls. They baked puffy and cakelike. The best part of this cookie is they were still soft three weeks after baking, which is quite unusual.

A few tips for this one. Chop the pecans really finely. I used a mini chop until they were tiny pieces. You want crunch not actual discernible pecan chunks. Also, I soaked the dried cranberries (and this recipe would be equally good with raisins) in the rum (you could also use bourbon or brandy) for about an hour which plumped them up considerably. If you don't want to use alcohol, I think applejuice or cider would work equally as well.

The flavors were much deeper a few days later when they had time to sit in an airtight container. This is definitely a winter cookie that would be good to make long after Christmas is over.

Cranberry Pecan Drop Cookies
Makes 36
1/2 C sugar
1-1/4 C flour
1/2 stick (1/4 C) butter
2 eggs
3/4c. pecan pieces
1c. dried cranberries or raisins
1/4 C rum or bourbon
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
confectioners sugar
Soak the dried fruit in the liquer for about one hour. Drain the liquid from the fruit and set aside.
Sift the flour and mix with the nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder.
Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next one.
Alternately add the liquer and the flour mixture. Fold in the dried fruit.
Chill the batter for 30 minutes and then scoop tablespoon size balls onto a greased baking sheet.
Bake 8 minutes in a preheated 350ยบ oven. Cool and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Homemade Two Bite Brownies

Have you ever had a two bite brownie? Is it not the most amazing product? They sit on store shelves for months, maybe years, and still manage to be moist and fudgy and delicious. How do they do it? How many chemicals are in the recipe? I shudder to think.

I can, however, make my own and I do just in time for Christmas. I am a sucker for all things holiday and those cute red and gold foil candy cups are one of the frivolous products I end up having too many of. They work perfectly for this recipe and add an extra touch of color to the cookie trays. Plus, they keep the brownies nice and small, literally two bites! My mom found my mini baking cups at the dollar store so I would suggest looking there before spending the high prices in baking supply stores.

These brownies are more of a dark chocolate flavor than the kind you get in the store. I think if I had used milk chocolate chips, it would have toned that down but everyone seemed to like that they were not too sweet. And the Rosebud chocoloate candy on top added the icing sweetness that I was looking for. If you don't know what a Rosebud is, they come in those Nelson chocolate boxes from places like Walmart. I think I only paid 99 cents fo mine.

I don't have much to add to the recipe except that overbaking them will ruin the fudgy texture so bake no longer than recommended and, if your stove tends to be on the hotter side, turn it down to 325. Also, don't double the recipe. They lose their texture. I just made three seperate batches.

These brownies were moist and fudgy right through the new year, though I only had a couple left of the 3 batches that I made. Chances are you won't have many left either!

Brownie Miniatures
From the Canadian Living Christmas Book
Makes 24
1/3c. packed brown sugar
1/4c. butter
3oz. semi sweet chocolate
1/2t. vanilla
1 egg
1/3c. flour
24 chocolate rosebuds
In a saucepan melt sugar, butter and chocolate over low heat until chocolate is just melted. Remove from heat and let cool one minute.
Blend in the vanilla and the egg, then gently fold in the flour just until blended.
Spoon into tiny baking cups, about 2/3's full. (I placed the baking cups inside mini muffin tins for added stability but I have also just placed them all on a cookie sheet as well).
Bake in a 350 oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set a Rosebud on top of each one. Let completely cool.