Friday, October 28, 2016

Chocolate Hazelnut Crinkle Cookies

I love hazelnuts and during the holiday season, when my mother put out the "traditional" nut bowl, I was the one picking them out to crack:-D  When we lived in the Pacific Northwest, hazelnuts were plentiful and I could always find a vendor at the Farmer's Market selling the nuts and nut flour, which I love baking with.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies have been around for awhile and the one thing I've always found is that you have to be careful not to make them too "tooth aching" sweet.  I like to substitute light brown sugar instead of the usual granulated sugar a lot of recipes call for and the chocolate I use is at least 60% cacao along with some unsweetened Dutch Processed Cocoa.  Today, I added some toasted hazelnut flour, which can be purchased at King Arthur Flour or or you can make your own by toasting hazelnuts in a shallow pan, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and rub hazelnuts in a kitchen towel to rub the loose skins off, then, place them in a food processor with 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Pulse until finely ground.  The hazelnut flavor also helps in not making these overly sweet, but rich and chocolatey. I think they're perfect to add to my repertoire for the Holiday Cookie Boxes I do each year!

Chocolate Hazelnut Crinkle Cookies
1/3 cup ground hazelnuts or toasted hazelnut flour (if making your own, start with about 2/3 cup of hazelnuts to toast, and pulse in food processor with 2 T granulated sugar.)

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao) chopped and melted in a bowl over a saucepan of barely    simmering water until smooth

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar (for rolling the cookies in)

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.  Add the brown sugar and mix until at high speed until fluffy.  Scrape down the sides once more and add the vanilla, and melted chocolate.  Mix to combine.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, then add it to the batter with the milk.  Mix just until combined.  The dough will be very soft and must be chilled for 2-3 hours.  I divided the dough and placed it in plastic wrap to chill.

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll dough into balls and then roll them (3-4 at a time) in sifted confectioners' sugar (icing sugar).  Arrange on the baking sheet, 2 inches apart.

Bake in the preheated oven, 10-12 minutes.  The cookies are puffed and cracked and edges feel dry, but the centers are still slightly soft.  Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.
I thought they looked like spider webs and packaged up some to send to my grands!  I spent last week with my granddaughters and had fun carving pumpkins and baking.  They're such good bakers--just like when I was growing up and loved helping my mom in the kitchen.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Butter Cake

This Butter Cake is like a "little black dress."  Simple and luscious on it's own, but dressed up--even better.  That's the first thing that came to mind when I baked this last night. Admittedly, this cake will remind you of a pound cake, but with a delicate crumb instead of the denseness its relative has.  Two simple reasons...replacing the granulated sugar with confectioners' sugar (icing sugar) and cake flour instead of all-purpose flour does the trick.

Since it's been another hectic month; I just got home from watching my granddaughters, I wanted to share this recipe in case you find a need for a dessert that you can call your own with "accessories."  I added a scoop of Pumpkin Pie Gelato, but cooked apples, cranberries, or pears would have been a lovely addition as well.

Butter Cake
1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb. (3 1/2) cups confectioners' sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Grease and flour a tube cake pan.
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter thoroughly.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the confectioners' sugar and mix on low until combined (you might have to wrap a dish towel around the bowl so it doesn't come out!)  Once combined, mix on medium for 1 minute, then scrape down the sides again.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and after the addition of two eggs, scrape down the sides of the bowl.  When all the eggs have been added and sides scraped down, add the vanilla.  Finally, add the flour and salt and mix on low to combine, then medium for 1 minute.
Spoon batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake in the preheated oven 55 to 60 minutes.  Test with a wooden skewer in the center of the cake.  Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes before turning out on a parchment lined baking sheet, then place your serving dish on the bottom and flip the cake over to have the top of the cake showing.
Gelato was a nice accompaniment after a light dinner of soup.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Giant Gingerbread and October's Give-Away Apron

 Giant Gingerbread cookies were a favorite of my Kelly's; so much so that she started baking them for friends for their birthdays.  Tomorrow would have been Kelly's 44th birthday and my heart is filled with sadness today knowing she's not around to enjoy these.  She loved these flavors and would be asking me to bake a pumpkin pie instead of a cake for her birthday!  These cookies are appropriate for this fall season with their aromatic spices and rich molasses flavor and I think they'll become a favorite of yours too.

Giant Gingerbread Cookies
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (plain flour)
2 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg and ground cloves

Sparkling Sugar

In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together thoroughly, scrapping down the sides as needed with a rubber spatula.  Add the molasses and egg and beat once more.  Mix all the dry ingredients together and add to the batter. Mix on low just until the flour mixture is incorporated.  Scrape down the sides once more and remove from the stand.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill dough one hour.

Preheat oven to 325F-degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Use a 1/4-cup size scoop to measure the dough, roll the tops in the Sparkling Sugar and place onto the baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven to 13 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan for 5-7 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Even with the rain and dreary day, my kitchen smelled wonderful and so many memories came back. Enjoy!

The apron for this month has some special colors, which were Kelly's favorites.  I hope you like it and if you comment on the posts this month, it could be in your kitchen for the holidays.

For all my dear friends in the path of this hurricane, my prayers to keep you safe.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

September's Give-Away Apron Winner...

Congratulations to Deborah RusticPumpkin!  You are the winner of this special apron for September.  Please email me your address and I'll get this one sent out to you:-D

I will have October's apron up soon and some wonderful recipes for the autumn season.