Monthly Archives: December 2011

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

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Tis the season for gingerbread cookies!

But of course, this is Wright Time for a Schnack, and we had to be a little different. Yesterday we spent the afternoon whipping up these chocolate gingerbread cookies and listening to the very wonderful She & Him Christmas album.

Last year I made Martha Stewart’s chocolate gingerbread cookies which were amazing, but making cut-out gingerbread men and decorating them is way more fun. Chocolate and gingerbread may sound like an odd combination of flavors, but it’s actually quite wonderful. And, even better, they’re really fun to decorate with rainbow nonpareils, colored sugar, frosting, or whatever fun holiday cookie decor you have on hand!

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from Good Life Eats

3 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
1 egg, room temperature
3/4 cup molasses
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Add the butter pieces; mix with an electric mixer at medium-low speed until the mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the chopped chocolate and stir to combine.
  2. Whisk the egg and molasses together. Reduce the speed to low and, with the mixture running, gradually add the molasses mixture. Mix until the dough is moist, then increase the speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds.
  3. Scrape the dough onto a work surface covered with parchment paper. Divide the dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour until firm enough to work with without becoming sticky. Alternatively, you can freeze the dough for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper until it is 1/4 inch. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Leaving the dough sandwiched between the parchment paper, stack the dough on a baking sheet and freeze about 15 minutes until firm, or refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove 1 dough sheet from the freezer and place on a work surface. Peel off the pieces of parchment paper. Using cookie cutters, cut out as many cookies as possible and arrange them on a baking sheet 3/4 inch apart. Roll the scraps together and reuse to make more cookies.
  6. Bake for 8-12 minutes on a rack positioned in the middle of the oven. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Frost as desired once cool.

Oh noooo!

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Peppermint Macarons

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Meet our pink bundles of French joy, peppermint macarons, complete with white chocolate and dark chocolate filling! For those who are confused, macarons are not made with coconut like macaroons (although both are equally delicious!). Macarons are a sandwich of light, airy meringue cookies made with almond flour, egg whites and confectioners sugar with a yummy ganache or frosting filling.

This was both of our first attempts at making macarons, which are actually pretty technical. We decided to make peppermint macarons, some with white chocolate and some with dark chocolate filling. They are super cute and delicious and would make a fantastic Christmas gift!

Peppermint Macaron Shells
Adapted from Alison Eats

2/3 cup almond flour
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 large egg whites, left out, uncovered overnight
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 tsp peppermint extract
Red food coloring (optional)

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and with a pencil, draw 1-inch circles about 1 inch apart. Flip the paper over and make sure you can see the circles. (We did not flip the paper over and ended up with pencil on the macaron shells which isn’t unsafe but just not aesthetically pleasing)
  2. Blend the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor until well incorporated.
  3. In a stainless-steel bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until foamy. Gradually add granulated sugar, peppermint extract and 10-20 drops of food coloring. Continue to beat until the eggs form stiff peaks.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the almond four and powdered sugar into the meringue in a couple additions.
  5. Preheat oven to 375. Fill a pastry bag with batter and carefully dispense the meringue into the circles on the parchment paper. Once the tray is filled, tap the baking sheet on the counter so the batter flattens a bit. Let the tray sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  6. Bake the cookies for 9-12 minutes, or until the tops of the shells are slightly crisp. Allow to cool completely before removing from the shells and cooking another batch.

 

Chocolate Filling
Adapted from David Lebovitz

½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
5 ounces bittersweet or white chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan until boiling just on the sides. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate. Let the mixture sit for a minute and then stir until smooth. Stir in the butter pieces. Allow the filling to cool completely before using. (If using immediately, place the saucepan over a bowl of ice water and stir frequently during assembly.)

Assembly

When both components have cooled completely, match the shells with like sizes.
Spread filling on one shell then top with the second shell.
Macarons are best consumed after at least one day. Store them in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature when ready to eat. Unless, of course, you can’t wait that long… they’re very good with no standing time!

For additional tips and techniques, visit David Lebovitz’s page Making French Macarons.


 

 

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These little rounds of deliciousness from Better Homes & Gardens magazine are pretty phenomenal. They may, in fact, be my new favorite cookies. (NOTE: I do not say this lightly–I take my baked goods very seriously). Caty and I whipped them up for a bake sale along with a few other baked goods, but I ended up liking their mocha-y taste so much that I actually went to the bake sale after I dropped them off and ended up buying back my own cookies. That’s right. These are magical little pastries. Something about their melt-in-the-mouth consistency in conjunction with their coffee/chocolate flavor… God, don’t get me started. I could go on for a while.

Anyway, here is the recipe. Beware, they do have coffee in them, so prepare to be a little wired/hyper, depending on how many you eat and how caffeine affects you. I might have been a little loco after eating them, but personally I don’t find that a bad thing.

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons finely ground espresso beans
1/3 cup sifted cake or all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (we used white)

1. In a medium saucepan, combine bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate and butter; heat and stir over low heat until mixture is melted and smooth. Cool for 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, eggs and ground espresso beans; beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until well cooled and color lightens slightly. Add cooled melted chocolate, beating until combined. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to chocolate mixture; beat until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
3. Cover surface of dough with waxed or parchment paper. Let stand for 20 minutes (dough thickens as it stands)
4. Preheat oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil. Using a 3-ounce scoop (or 1-2 tablespoons) scoop dough in mounds 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.
5. Bake in preheated oven about 13 minutes or just until tops are set and the cracks on top do not appear moist. Let cookies stand on cookie sheet on a wire rack for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire rack; cool.
(Makes about 24 cookies)