Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Incredible Chocolate Crinkles

The first time I made Chocolate Crinkles it was in the 70s; the recipe called for oil, not butter and although everyone liked them, I knew one day I'd discover a way to make this cookie even more perfect.  Cookies are really one of the hardest confections to really get right--in fact, it's where knowledge of science really comes in handy. Knowing what purpose baking soda and powder does, the ratio and sugar to the other ingredients and of course how to mix the ingredients.  Thanks to an episode of America Test Kitchens on PBS, all these were explained and their diligence in testing gave me an incredible Chocolate Crinkle!

What was achieved to make these incredible was a soft, but not gooey center with a firm outer layer, but just to touch, not hard.  What I had been doing wrong was my ratio of sugar to chocolate.  Most Crinkles call for semi-sweet with cocoa, but these call for unsweetened with added cocoa; this gives the soft center instead of wet!  Also, and this is important, you are going to mix the ingredients by hand.  No stand or hand mixer needed, but I did end up using three bowls to mix the dry, wet, and melted chocolate and butter.  Another step was to let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes to firm up instead of chilling in the refrigerator.  Finally, the balls are rolled in granulated sugar, then the confectioners' sugar so the confectioners' sugar doesn't melt away and become a Jackson Pollock look-alike:-D

Incredible Chocolate Crinkles 
Makes 22 cookies
1 cup KAF  (King Arthur Flour) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. espresso powder (optional, but really brings out the flavor of the chocolate)
In a medium bowl, whisk these ingredients together and set aside.

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
4 T unsalted butter
In a small bowl, microwave, at 50% power until melted--about 1-2 minutes, at 35-40 seconds at a time.

1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
In a large bowl, stir the wet ingredients with the brown sugar until smooth.

Mix the melted chocolate/butter mixture into the wet ingredients, then, add the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.  Allow to set on the counter for 10-15 minutes for the batter to firm up. While the dough is setting, Preheat oven to 325F-degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar into two bowls.

Use a #30 scoop (I just found out that it gets this number because a gallon of ice cream would produce 30 scoops with this size.) to measure the dough.  Place the mound, first in the granulated sugar, covering it entirely with it, then, move it to the confectioners' sugar to coat completely.  Place the ball of dough on the lines cookie sheet--spacing 11 cookies on each sheet.

Bake one sheet at a time for 12 minutes--don't over bake!  The cookie is done when the sides of the cookies feel firm, but the center still looks somewhat moist.  Remove the pan from the oven and cool cookies on the baking sheet.  Repeat with the second baking sheet.
Meanwhile, the cookies are cooling and my little darlings are sleeping during this rainy Spring day...

This is an excellent recipe and doesn't something chocolate sound good right about now.  Enjoy!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Secret Ingredient Spice Cookies & April's Give-Away Apron

The month of April symbolizes showers, trees and flowers bursting forth,  Easter, and my Dad's birthday on April 12th (he would have been 95 years old).  So, it wasn't by accident that I chose (or it chose me) a fabric with Sailboats on it; besides being retired from US Navy, he was an avid sailor on his twin keel sailboat,  Rhiannon (Irish witch).
Dad bringing Rhiannon up the Chesapeake Bay  
If you would like a chance to win this apron, please leave a comment on any one of my posts this month!

Now, for these unusual spice cookies...I love a good mystery and in fact, if you haven't already read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins I highly recommend it.  However, we're talking cookies and the mystery ingredient.
wait for it...........
Yes, it's ketchup!  Before you say yuck (and I know my daughter, Erin will because she hates ketchup) I must say these reminded me of a spice cake my mother baked made with tomato soup in the 60s.  How many of you have made that cake?  Well, it's delicious too and I know if you told your family what was in it, they probably wouldn't even try it:-D  These cookies are unique and heading straight to my sister's house today for an Easter surprise.

Secret Ingredient Spice Cookies
3 1/2 cups KAF all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 cup granulated sugar
4T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup ketchup (I used Heinz)
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a glass bowl, mix the butter, oil, molasses and ketchup and microwave 30 seconds on high, repeating until the butter has melted.
In a stand mixer, using a paddle attachment, place all the dry ingredients in and mix on low to combine.  While mixer is running, slowly add the melted butter mixture.  Next, add the egg and vanilla and continue mixing until thorough combined.

Place Sparkling Sugar or granulated sugar in a small bowl.  Scoop tablespoon size pieces of dough, roll in a ball and dip the tops in the sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly brown.  Allow to cool a few minutes, then, transfer to a rack to cool completely.  

Secret ingredient and all, these are wonderful cookies...just don't tell the family. Enjoy!

Happy Easter to All!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Best Chocolate Baked April Fools! and March's Apron Winner

Easter, to me is all about the chocolate...not the treble:-D  And, these baked doughnuts deliver that and then some!  Wouldn't these be scrumptious for your Easter brunch table?  Easy to make and I can guarantee they stay moist for 3-5 days in an air-tight container, so making them the night before is, as they say, "a piece of cake!"

Baking with my mother was always fun at holidays--making our own chocolate Easter eggs, Hot Cross Buns, cookies and pies.  Even as life gets hectic, I try to hold to tradition as much as I can, coming up with quicker versions of our family's favorites.

Chocolate Baked Doughnuts
2/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups KAF all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk (not skim)
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray two doughnut pans with a baking spray and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl and use a hand mixer) using the paddle attachment, place all the dry ingredients in and mix on low to combined.  Mix in the eggs, one a time, then, add the milk, sour cream and vanilla extract.  Mix until well combined.  Finally, while the mixer is running, add the melted butter and continue to mix until the dough is smooth. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides.
Spoon the dough into the prepared pans, filling them a bit over 3/4 full.  Smooth the tops.
Bake in the preheated oven about 12-15 minutes, checking after 12 minutes.  Test with a toothpick inserted in the middle; should come out clean.
The recipe makes easily 12-15 doughnuts, so you may have to repeat with baking a third pan.
Invert the doughnuts on a rack.  While slightly warm, dip into the Glaze or you can coat the doughnuts with~

In a bag, combine:
Sugar/Cocoa/Cinnamon Coating:
2 T granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Place warm doughnuts into the bag and shake to coat.

Make while the doughnuts are baking.
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 T Light Karo Syrup
Pinch of Salt

Heat the heavy cream, Karo syrup and salt in a small sauce pan until "bubbles" appear around the edges.  Pour the heated cream mixture over the chips in a small glass bowl.  Allow to sit a few minutes, then stir until smooth.  Dip the tops of the doughnuts and place on a parchment lined rack. 
I added a sprinkling of chopped peanuts...I live in the South, but you could also add Sprinkles to remind you of those processed doughnuts at your favorite shop.  Enjoy!

Now, the winner of March's sweet cherry apron is Nancy C from NancyCreative blog!  Just email me your address and I'll get this pretty apron off to you ASAP!

Tomorrow, I'll have an unusual cookie with April's Give-Away fooling!