Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cookie Season: Chocolate Chipotle Cookies

In honor of Claire's first Christmas, I tried a new cookie recipe that combined delicious dark chocolate with a spicy kick -- a concoction called Chocolate Chipotle Cookies that will now make it into my cookie rotation each holiday season.  I love chocolate bars with surprising spices like chili powder or ginger -- which my husband likes to add to my Christmas stocking every year -- and these cookies were a perfect fix.  I only got to make one batch of these with all the shopping and wrapping gifts I had to do last week so I'll need to make another for New Year's, or maybe just to eat during the week.  After all, we have another whole week until New Year's resolutions kick in!  Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

Chocolate Chipotle Cookies
(Courtesy of Alison Lewis) 

8 ounces dark chocolate morsels (1 1/3 cups)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground chipotle seasoning
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Microwave chocolate on high heat for 45 seconds; stir. Reheat in 15 second intervals, stirring until melted or heat chocolate over a double-boiler, stirring until melted.

Combine, flour, cinnamon and chipotle in a medium bowl; Set aside.

Beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy. Add brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in melted chocolate. Stir in flour mixture until blended. Stir in pecans.

Shape dough into 1-inch ball; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten the top of each cookie with a glass dipped in sugar.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire
racks to cool completely.

Yield: 3 dozen
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Clarendon Cook and her family

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cookie Season: Faux Baklava

Love the taste of baklava but don't want to spend hours making it?  I do!  This recipe is the perfect substitute.  I love baklava for its buttery, nutty, honey-sweetened goodness, but the thought of having to lay each phyllo-dough layer doesn't make it worthwhile to me.  I'd rather buy it (or eat the baklava my friend Megan likes to make).  Call me lazy, but long hours of baking doesn't suit me especially when I need a sugar fix!  This recipe is only a few steps and pretty foolproof.  These cookies have been a family favorite for a few years now, especially during the holidays.  Enjoy!

Faux Baklava (a.k.a. Pie Crust Cookies)
(Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

1 pie crust (I use a pre-made Pillsbury pie crust, although you could make your own for this recipe.)
1 cup finely chopped nuts
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 T. honey
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. lemon juice

On a lightly floured surface, spread the pie crust out and roll the dough into a 9-inch circle.  Transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet or a pizza stone.

For the filling, combine the nuts, sugar, honey, cinnamon, and lemon juice.  Spread over half of the dough circle on the cookie sheet, and then fold the other half over so that it forms a half moon shape.  Use tines of fork to seal edges and prick dough.  Brush the edges with milk.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until pastry starts to brown.  Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.  While warm, cut into 16 to 20 wedges using a pizza cutter.  Cool completely.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cookie Season Begins: Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chunks

Happy December 1st!  Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Christmas is on its way.  And it is also now the official start of Cookie Season!  (At least in my home!)

Love peanut butter cookies?  My all-time favorite cookies are chocolate chip, but every once in a while I get a craving for ones made with peanut butter.  That was the case this week and I found a peanut butter cookie recipe that will take you straight to cookie heaven.  Seriously.  These are that good.  And addicting.  Perhaps one of the best reasons to like these cookies is the fact that they were still fresh and chewy the next day, and I don't think you can say that about many cookies.  (They didn't last past day two, so I don't know how long they would stay fresh.)  I daresay that if you make these for any Christmas cookie exchange this month, that you will make at least 20 new friends.  Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chunks
(Courtesy of Bon Appetit, March 1997)

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup old-fashioned chunky peanut butter (about 9 oz.)
1 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used a combination of milk chocolate and peanut butter chips.)

Mix flour, oats, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl using an electric mixer, beat peanut butter, brown sugar, butter, honey, egg and vanilla in a large bowl until well blended.  Stir dry ingredients into peanut butter mixture in 2 additions.  Stir in chopped chocolate.  Cover and refrigerate until dough is firm and no longer sticky, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter 2 or 3 large baking sheets.  With your hands, roll 1 heaping tablespoonful of dough for each cookie into 1 3/4-inch-diameter ball.  Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart.  Bake cookies until puffed, beginning to brown on top and still very soft to touch, about 12 minutes.  Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes.  Using a metal spatula, transfer cookies to rack and cool completely.  (Can be made 2 days ahead.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.)