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.