Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category
Some of my readers may know that I started working at Common Sense Media early this year. Well, last week, I attended the annual holiday cookie swap for the first time, and there was one cookie that completely knocked me out. They were chocolate-pistachio sablés that had these salt crystals on top which made all of flavors jump right off the cookie. I had to find out who had brought these amazing a little treasures and what the recipe was. Well, parenting editor, Caroline Knorr had brought them and she happily agreed to do a guest post here on StreamingGourmet after I approached her about it. Thank, Caroline! – Amy/StreamingGourmet
Chocolate-Pistachio Sablés for the Annual Holiday Cookie Swap
The annual cookie swap at Common Sense Media is a festive — and dare I say — ultra-competitive event. We have so many talented bakers in our office that you really have to be at the top of your game to stand out. When I received my December issue of Bon Appetit, there were cookies on the cover, and I immediately pounced on the holiday baking feature, assuming that anything I chose from that section would attract attention.
I had actually made that issue’s caraway-rosemary shortbread a few times, thinking that I’d make them for the cookie swap, but though I loved them, I really wanted to make something chocolately for the party. I decided upon the chocolate pistachio sables partly because the recipe made A LOT — we have over 50 people in the office and my biggest fear is cookie shortage — and because the assembly was slice-and-bake logs and I thought it would be faster and more fool-proof than cutting shapes or doing drop cookies.
As for ingredients, I used Ghirardelli cocoa and bittersweet baking chocolate. I had to make a few substitutions because my grocery store didn’t have raw pistachios or maldon salt and the clock was ticking. I had to make do with roasted, salted pistachios in the shell and a sea-salt grinder. I was concerned that this combination would ruin the delicate interplay of salty and sweet flavors in the sables, so I compensated by sprinking on some coarse sanding sugar along with the salt.
The process was fairly simple once the logs were rolled. I was only able to chill them for about 3 hours, which was totally fine. I didn’t use a serrated knife, as the recipe specifies, because I discovered a sharp chef’s knife resulted in a cleaner edge. The only issue I ran into was that a few of the cookies were so crumbly when they came out, they fell right off the rack. That may have been due to the fact that I didn’t roll the logs tight enough — and that was because I didn’t want to make them too tough. No worries, though, my family was happy to eat the broken pieces!
On the day of the swap, I was still concerned that the cookies would be too salty for some tastes ( I loved them, though, but I LOVE salt). If you can find raw pistachios or at least unsalted ones, I would recommend using them or do what I did and sprinkle sugar on top along with the salt.
Here is the adapted version.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Ghirardellie or Hershey’s Special Dark will work)
- ¾ tsp kosher salt (option if using salted, roasted pistachios)
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1¼ cups (lightly packed) light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg white
- 5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios, coarsely chopped
- Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
- Sift together flour, cocoa powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand-mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. It will take about 4 minutes.
- Gradually add dry ingredients while mixing on low just to combine.
- Add egg white and mix on low to combine as well.
- Fold in chocolate and pistachios with a spoon.
- Divide dough into 4 pieces and roll each into a ball. Roll each piece into an 8”-long log about 1½” in diameter. If it feels crumbly, mush the dough together more firmly. Wrap tightly in parchment paper and chill until firm, at least 4 hours. (The colder your dough, the easier it will be to slice. If you’re rushed for time, you can also use the freezer.)
- Preheat to 350°. Working with 1 log of dough at a time and using a serrated knife, cut logs into ¼”-thick rounds and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing ½” apart.
- Sprinkle cookies with sea salt and bake, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until set around edges and centers look dry, 10–15 minutes.
- Transfer to wire racks and let cool.
Chocolate chip cookies are probably my favorite cookies in the world. On StreamingGourmet, we’ve done Michelle Obama’s award-winning chocolate chip cookies that have three kinds of chips. I’ve also featured Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, as well as peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. You get the picture.
These Chocolate Espresso Brownie Cookies take things to a new level by bringing the fudginess and chocolatiness of brownies, to a cookie – and don’t forget the chips! Since these cookies have a higher ratio of chocolate to flour than average, the batter is not at all firm. You must use parchment paper, and basically spoon drop the batter (which will spread) onto the cookie sheet.
The softness of the cookies does make them more challenging than usual to remove from the pan once cooked, so allow them to cool first before even trying.
It’s all worth it for that melt-in-your-mouth, death-by-chocolate taste.
- 3 oz semi-sweet (62%-70% Scharffen Berger) chocolate, chopped into bits
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (Guittard are great)
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp espresso powder
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- In a double boiler (I put a pyrex bowl on top of a pan of boiling water), combine the chocolate, half of the chocolate chips and the butter, stirring until melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar and espresso powder on high speed until very thick, about 3 minutes.
- Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture to the bowl, whisking just until combined.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with a spoon until just combined. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips.
- Spoon heaping tablespoons of batter about 2 inches apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. The batter will be looser than normal cookie dough batter and will spread a bit. Sprinkle with sprinkles. Refrigerate batter between batches.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are cracked and puffed on top.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool before transferring to a platter.
Always in search of the ultimate dark chocolate brownie, I’ve blogged about brownies several times before. I’ve tried the Ghiradelli Classic Brownie Recipe. I’ve swirled chocolate brownies with pumpkin, and I’ve tried the Scharffen Berger Fudgy Brownie recipe. But now I can say, I’ve finally made the brownie recipe I will return to again and again.
The secrets to this recipe?
For one, I’ve doubled the quantity so that you can use a larger pan (and make more at a time). The larger pan slows down the baking rate a bit, and I think helps keep everything moist. Also, this recipe calls one more egg than the average recipe. Eggs make batters more cakey, and normally, I wouldn’t want my chocolate brownie recipe to be too cakey. If it’s cakey, then it’s not fudgy, right? We’ll the balance of chocolate, butter, flour and eggs in this recipe seems to hit it just right. They’re fudgy and dark, but they hold together well.
One of the other secret ingredients in this recipe is the espresso powder. In the same way that vanilla functions, the espresso gives the chocolate flavor additional depth and complexity. It doesn’t make it taste like coffee, it just anchors the chocolate flavor.
Lastly,the chocolate chips give these brownies texture and additional chocolate umph.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder)
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
- 1½ tsp espresso powder
- 9.7 oz Scharffen Berger® 70% bittersweet chocolate baking bar, broken into pieces
- ¼ cup of Guittard® Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 1.5 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 6 large eggs
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cup Guittard® Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- Preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Spray a 9×13-inch rectangular baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Mix the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together in a bowl; set aside.
- In a double-boiler (I put a pyrex bowl on top of a saucepan with boiling water, combine the butter, chocolate espresso powder and stir over low heat until all is melted and combined.
- Take the chocolate mixture off the heat and add the sugars, mixing until combined.
- Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix thoroughly.
- Add vanilla and stir to combine.
- Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Gently stir in the chips.
- Pour the batter into the sprayed pan and push the batter into the corners with the back of a spoon.
- Bake the brownies for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Do not overbake. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Now that it almost October, I’m starting to go pumpkin crazy again. This month’s issue of Fine Cooking features Holiday Pumpkin Desserts on the cover, and I was inspired by a Bundt cake featured inside. I adapted this recipe from that one, pumping up the spice a bit and making other little tweaks. The result is a moist flavorful pumpkin cake that was a hit at the church coffee hour this morning. Bundt cakes are so rewarding because they always come out looking great and aren’t that difficult to pull off. Powdered sugar is the perfect finish and a lot easier than frosting!
The filling includes crystallized ginger mixed in with the cream cheese and sour cream. Don’t skip it. It makes it have real zing. To finely chop it, I just dumped it in this MiniPrep:
And to grind the nutmeg, I used a microplane grater, like this one:
- 12 oz. cream cheese, softened (1.5 packages of Philadelphia)
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp. ground ginger
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (I used a Cuisinart Mini Prep to chop mine)
- 2¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. freshl ground nutmeg (I use a microplane grater)
- ½ tsp. ground cloves
- 1 15-oz. can pure pumpkin purée
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- For the cream cheese filling:
- In a stand mixer beat the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, ginger, and salt on medium speed until well combined.
- Add each egg, one at a time, beating after each addition until mixed thoroughly.
- Chop the crystallized ginger in a Cuisinart MiniPrep. It will glom together because it’s sticky, but don’t worry. Once added to the cream cheese mixture, it will distribute.
- Add the vanilla and the crystallized ginger to the cream cheese mixture and blend. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a Bundt pan generously with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer, blend the pumpkin, sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
- Add the ⅓ of the dry ingredients, and whisk until well blended. Then add another third and blend and repeat.
- Fill the prepared Bundt pan with about half of the cake batter.
- Stir the filling to distribute the chopped ginger.
- Create a trough in the batter with the back of a large spoon and then try to pour the cream cheese filling into the trough. Don’t worry if it spills over.
- Spoon the remaining batter on top and spread to evenly over the top.
- Bake until a sharp knife inserted to the bottom comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes.
- Cool on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes and then invert onto a serving plate and remove the cake pan.
- Cool completely.
- You can refrigerate the plastic-wrap covered cake for up to 2 days.
- When ready to serve, dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar.
Fall is my favorite time of year and these cupcakes are just what I need to get in the mood. The shadows are lengthening and out here in San Francisco, the air is more humid than usual and it’s warmer. When I lived on the East Coast, the arrival of Fall was all about feeling a cold nip in the air. Here in San Francisco where the summers are freezing, it’s quite the opposite. The weather heats up as the leaves are turning brown.
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed firmly
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup milk
- 1½ cups pure pumpkin puree
- For the frosting:
- 1 package cream cheese
- 1½ sticks (12 Tbsp) unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup light brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp cinnamon, plus extra for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line cupcake tray (24) with paper liners.
- In a standing mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on high speed until fluffy.
- Add eggs and vanilla and mix at a medium speed until well blended.
- In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to wet, alternating with the milk, until all are incorporated. Add pumpkin puree and mix well.
- Fill cupcakes two-thirds full and bake for 18 – 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and let stand for a couple of minutes. Then remove from muffin tin and let cool completely.
- To make the frosting:
- Let the cream cheese and butter soften before creaming them together on high speed with a mixer. Cream in the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until smooth and light. Chill in the fridge overnight (or at least for a few hours) to let it set.
- Spread on cupcakes and garnish with a pinch of cinnamon.
As summer draws to a close, it’s time to pause one last time and acknowledge the plum. All summer long, they have been a staple in my weekly CSA box and I have been thinking I must make an upside-down cake.
This one is particularly easy. I made it before work this morning while also packing lunches and preparing breakfast for my two kids. Slice the fruit and mix the batter. That was about it.
The great news is the cake come out light and fluffy and the plums work their own magic so the end result is delicious. I’ve added twice the normal amount of vanilla in this recipe which made the flavor of the cake really pop.
- 7 Tablespoons butter, divided
- ⅔ cup sugar, divided
- 4 plums, thinly sliced – choose plums that are not overly ripe
- 1 egg
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- Place one tablespoon of butter in a circular pie pan and melt in the oven for a couple of minutes.
- Meanwhile, cream the butter with the remaining sugar. Add the egg and beat until smooth.
- Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle ⅓ cup of sugar evenly around the bottom.
- Arrange the plum slices in neat, concentric circles on top of the butter/sugar.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
- Add the dry ingredients to the cream mixture in batches, alternating with the milk until mixed thoroughly.
- Add in the vanilla and mix until batter is smooth. If the batter is too thick, mix in another tablespoon of milk.
- Spread the batter evenly on top of the plums, working it all the way out to the edge of the pan.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. A knife inserted in the cake should come out clean.
- Remove from the oven and invert onto a plate immediately.
- Serve warm.
I can’t believe I haven’t already made carrot cake a million times, since I love to make Zucchini Bread, and of course, am always making Pumpkin Bread, but this is the fist time I’ve done a post about Carrot Cake. I like my carrot cake without raisins or nuts, so some will say that this is a stripped down version of carrot cake, but the flavor was great and it was moist too, so I’m sticking with this version.
I took a shortcut with the carrots and used a bag of shredded carrots I bought at the grocery store. I did pop the shredded carrots into my Cuisinart Mini Prep to make them even smaller, but it was super easy to start with the carrots already shredded.
To make the carrot with icing, I set a side two different reserves. One I added red and yellow food coloring to make orange and the other one, I added green. I put these into two sandwich bags and cut a little corner off. I squeezed the orange icing out back and forth to make a snaky carrot shape and then repeated for the green part.
- 1½ cups vegetable oil
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie spice
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 3 cups finely grated carrots
- For the icing:
- ½ cup butter, softened
- (1) 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar
- Additional milk as necessary
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9″ x 13″ pan with cooking spray (or two 9-inch round layer pans) .
- Beat the eggs into the oil and then beat in the sugar, salt, and spices. Mix the flour with the baking soda, and stir in. Add the carrots and mix until just blended. Pour into the prepared pan(s).
- Bake the cake(s) for 35 to 40 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- For the frosting:
- Beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
- Add the salt and vanilla and beat in with the sugar.
- Add a teaspoon of milk if the frosting is too stiff to spread; add additional sugar if it’s too thin.
I’ve had a cookie pan similar to the one pictured below for a couple of years and used it only a few times. You can purchase it from Amazon by clicking on it. Today, I thought, what if I try to make madeleines in these molds? They’re about the same size as a madeleine pan. Since it’s Christmas, I’m in the mood for chocolate, so how about chocolate madeleines? I have combined several madeleine recipe sources to create this version. These are relatively simple and quick and make a great holiday gift.
- 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup superfine sugar
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- ½ stick butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray molds thoroughl with cooking spray
- Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl.
- Add flour, baking powder, cocoa and melted butter and mix gently to combine.
- Spoon the mixture into the molds until ⅔ full.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until Madeleines are set.
I’ve been making Nestle® Toll House® Cookies for Christmas for 35 years. I’m almost 42, so you do the math. We always sprinkled colored sugar on top. There is no way I know how to improve on the Toll House recipe, except perhaps to add an extra dash of the vanilla extract. And of course, the quality of the chips matters. You can step up to Ghirardelli, or dare I say, Sharffen Berger, but when it comes down to it, Nestlé Semi Sweet Baking Chips really do the trick, and I bought a HUGE bag of them at Costco at the beginning of December, so we’re sticking to the old favorite.
What’s your favorite Christmas Cookie?
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
- PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
- COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
- BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
I baked these for the church bake sale and they were tender and rich. At first, I thought the dough was difficult to handle, but once I got it chilled enough, it was much easier to cut the shapes and transfer them to the baking sheet.
If you don’t have cream of tartar on hand, you can substitute baking powder. Baking powder is simply two parts cream of tartar with one part baking soda. It won’t be perfect, but you could use 1 tsp of baking powder instead of the baking soda and cream of tartar requirement.
- 1 stick butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup canola oil
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 egg
- 1½ tsp pure vanilla extra
- 2½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- ½ tsp salt
- Sprinkles or caster sugar
- In the bowl of a standup mixer, beat the butter, oil, and two sugars until well blended and fluffy. Mix in the egg and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt and mix it in. Form the dough into a large ball. It will be quite soft. You may need to add additional flour, but don’t overdo it. Just chill it for an hour first and then check it.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Divide the dough into 2 large balls. On a floured board, roll out the dough until it is about ⅛” thick. Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes and transfer them, using a spatula to help, to a non-stick cookie sheet. Scatter sprinkles on top. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until starting to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before carefully transferring them to rack for further cooling.
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