December 11: Cesca’s White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies

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Because I’m in a typhoon of grading/writing/shuttling kids, I’m going to leave this one as a pictorial today, along with the recipe. It’s like all these people that pay me expect me to finish my work on time. 

Do the recipe. Roll in sugar. Smash with glass and bake.

White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies

(from http://www.cookingclassy.com)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups white chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbsp shortening
  • sprinkles

Directions:

  • In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg for 20 seconds, set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar until well blended. Mix in egg, then blend in molasses and vanilla. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees during last 10 minutes of chilling.
  • Scoop dough out about 1 1/2 Tbsp at a time, shape into balls then roll in remaining 3 Tbsp granulated sugar. Transfer to Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart (keep dough chilled that is not currently baking), flatten tops just slightly (to evenly level). Bake in preheated oven 8 – 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, melt 1 cup white chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp shortening at a time in microwave on HIGH power in 10 second intervals, stirring between intervals, until melted, smooth and fairly runny (I did batches of it because it will cool as your dipping, plus its easy to burn so you don’t want to work with too much of it at a time. Then once you’ve used it up melt more, you may not need all 3 cups). Dip half of each cookie in melted white chocolate mixture then run bottom of cookie slightly along edge of bowl to remove excess, then return to Silpat or parchment paper to set at room temperature.
  • Sprinkle sprinkles on top, after the long journey to decide which ones to use

December 5: King Cake Cookies

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Confession: Today’s cookie was actually started last night so I could let the icing dry. I hope you forgive me.

We spent the last three years in Louisiana while I went to graduate school. It was a big change from Wisconsin, where we moved from, and it took some getting used to. I didn’t always like it there, but last year around this time, I told my friend Lauren (who was also in graduate school with me) that we would come to miss that place and she agreed. My last semester, the place kinda grew on me. When we graduated and were getting ready to move (me to Chicagoland, Lauren to get her PhD in Florida), she gave me this. 

She painted it herself and when she was packing up to move, she asked if I wanted it. I did. I never thought I would, but I did. Now, it’s a tad dirtier in my possession than it ever was in her’s, because this lives in my kitchen, behind my kitchen sink where I see it a dozen or more times a day. Splatters happen.

I knew I wanted to make a Louisiana cookie, and I ordered a cookie cutter in the shape of the state. When it arrived, I needed to think of the proper cookie for it. I knew I wanted to be able to decorate it, so it had to be a roll-out cookie. And I knew I wanted to incorporate some of the flavor of Louisiana in it. The answer was clear:

I’m obviously kidding. Anyone that knows me knows that I am not a fan of spicy foods and was living in the wrong part of the country. My grad school friends especially like to tease me about this, citing the time I thought green beans at a restaurant there were too spicy. (And they were!) But there was a piece of Louisiana cuisine I did enjoy: King Cake.

Our director Amy would bring in a different king cake every week to our Thursday workshop during Epiphany (the time between January 6 and Lent). They were generally filled with things, like pecans, strawberries, cream cheese, blueberries, and once, boudin (a special sausage). The base of the cake is generally a cinnamon dough, and it’s covered with frosting and sprinkles.

So for this dough, I wanted to find something that had three things: cinnamon, cream cheese, and pecans. I came close to a recipe online but doctored it up a bit. It’s posted at the end of this post. 

Oh it’s cold. Trust me.

The original recipe calls for your butter and egg to be cold. I’m not sure what difference it made, but I made sure they were.

I added a half cup of finely chopped pecans to this recipe, as well as added a tablespoon of cinnamon, just to try and get the king cake feel I was looking for. And for my Louisiana readers, no I did not put a baby in the cookies. (My kids asked.)

I chilled my dough in a ball of cling wrap for a couple hours while I did other things. When it came time to roll them out, I had to move this pretty boy. 

Gilligan, the three-legged cat.

He’s such a good boy. 

After I rolled out the dough and cut the cookies, I put them on a cookie sheet and then sprinkled cinnamon on them. I tried the dough and I didn’t think it was cinnamon-y enough, so this was my solution.

After they cooled, I took my pastry bag filled with yesterday’s (now) successful royal icing and outlined the cookies. After they were dry, I filled them in. 

I did half white and half green, and then let them dry overnight. This morning I finished the decorating. I thought about putting the traditional king cake colors on them, but even with all my sprinkles, I only had light purple and I needed dark purple. I know, I know…these are real problems.

King Cake Cookies

(adapted from 6 Cakes and More)

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces full fat cream cheese, room temperature 
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cool, not room temperature 
  • 1 c. granualted sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 T vanilla
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped pecans
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • extra cinnamon to sprinkle on dough
  • 4 c. all purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add your cream cheese, cool unsalted butter, sugar, and salt. The temperature of the butter and the fact that you use unsalted butter matter here.
  3. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed available. We don’t want to incorporate any air into the dough. Air will cause spreading! We only want to mix this until it starts to incorporate. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. 
  4. Add the cold egg and the vanilla. Again, the temperature of the eggs matter. You want to use them cold.
  5. Again, turn your mixer on to the lowest speed and mix just until the eggs and vanilla have incorporated into the other ingredients. Scrape down the bottom and sides of your bowl. If you need to, mix for a few more seconds. You will see small pieces of butter and that’s okay!
  6. Add the tablespoon of cinnamon and 1/2 cup pecans to your wet ingredients.
  7. Add the flour to your wet ingredients.
  8. Once more, turn your mixer on to the lowest setting, and mix until it all comes together. It will to gather onto the paddle. It doesn’t take long, so don’t walk away from it. Turn the mixer off and touch the dough. If you can leave an imprint with your finger without the dough sticking to it, it’s ready.
  9. Turn the dough out on to a piece of cling wrap and wrap it into a ball. Put it in the fridge for at least an hour.
  10. Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch and cut your shapes. 
  11. Once your shapes are on the baking sheet, sprinkle cinnamon on all of them.
  12. Bake your cookies at 350 for 12-14 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack completely before icing. 

December 4, 2017 — Soft and Chewy Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’m in the throws of finishing a beast of a paper, so instead of telling you how I made something, I’m just going to post a few pictures and the recipe. It’s that sort of week around here.

The Best Soft & Chewy Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies (from thedomesticrebel.com)

Ingredients
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (I like to use Madagascar Bourbon)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar & white sugar with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and egg to combine. Lastly, beat in the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and pinch of salt until a soft dough has formed. Stir in the cranberries and white chips by hand.
  2. Refrigerate the cookie dough for AT LEAST 1 HOUR. You can chill it overnight if you’d like, but one hour chill time is mandatory to prevent cookies from spreading and to create that light, soft and chewy texture.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone liners or mist lightly with cooking spray. Remove chilled dough from fridge and roll into Tablespoon-sized balls. Place onto the cookie sheets about 1-2″ apart from one another.
  4. Bake for approx. 8-10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time to ensure an even cook. Cookies may appear slightly undone, but do not over-bake them! They will continue to set up more as they cool. Allow cookies to set on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes or so before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. If you’d like to make them prettier, garnish cookies with additional white chips on top of still-warm cookies before serving.

December 1, 2017–Italian Sand Cookies

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Whoa, is it that time of year again? My tree is up, Elf is on prime time, and I have a pile of final exams to grade. Yup, it must be December!

It was a little up-in-the-air whether or not I’d do this, and in the spirit of openness, the way I was feeling in December, I didn’t know if I could ever get in the Christmas Spirit again. But I’ve prevailed against the doldrums, and here I am.

I’m starting the season off with one of my favorites–Italian Sand Cookies. I got this recipe a few years ago off the internet and they are always a crowd-pleaser.

Tonight, as I was starting to bake, I couldn’t find cornstarch. So, despite my best efforts, I was not prepared, and back to the store I went. Sigh.

Mixed it all together and piped it on a cookie sheet (I also didn’t have parchment paper, which I discovered after I got home from the store for the second time today. I was not about to return for a third.)

Now, when I lived in Wisconsin and made these, the piping came through a lot better.

See?

Now, I don’t know why it is that these have spread out so much the past few years, but my inclination is that it has something to do with humidity and general Louisiana-ness. (50th in everything, except humidity.) If you happen to know the real reason, please let me know.

To celebrate my first day (night?) of holiday baking, I picked up a little something at Albertsons when I went for corn starch.

No, not the cat. That’s Zelda, and she’s a new addition. I’m talking about the glass of Prosecco, also a new addition of sorts.

When they were cooled, I melted some milk chocolate with a little coconut oil and dipped them, and then added the mandatory sprinkles.

My best friend once caught a glimpse of all the sprinkles on my shelf via FaceTime and made me count them for her. There were 20 different kinds. This was a few years ago, and the collection has indeed grown. I don’t have a problem; I can stop any time I want!

Welcome to December friends. Now would anyone like to write a 20 page paper for me this weekend?

SAND COOKIES

(from www.cheftessbakeresse.com)

1 1/2 cups flour (we used AP)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar *
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 eggs
*(we also liked 3/4 c. conf sugar & 1/4 c. granulated which made them a slight bit sweeter)

Creaming method. Put through bag with large star tip. Bake @ 375 F for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown. Decorate with choc chips, sprinkles or leave plain and dip half in melted choc., etc.

Cesca’s White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies

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I made these last year–another Pinterest find–and when I brought an assortment to the hungry hungry grad students, my friend Cesca tried a few and then got to this one. Well, since then, whenever the conversation turns towards cookies (and because she and I now share an office, it often does) I hear about “those ginger cookies,” often in a lyric detail only a poet could describe them, and always with the ending sentence, “And I don’t even like cookies that much.”

So, I’m sorry Pinterest and site where this recipe originated, I have changed the name of these to Cesca’s White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies, after their biggest fan and bad-ass poet/songwriter/journalist. I hope these hold up to her memory from last year!

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White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies

(from http://www.cookingclassy.com)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups white chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbsp shortening
  • sprinkles

Directions:

  • In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg for 20 seconds, set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar until well blended. Mix in egg, then blend in molasses and vanilla. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees during last 10 minutes of chilling.
  • Scoop dough out about 1 1/2 Tbsp at a time, shape into balls then roll in remaining 3 Tbsp granulated sugar. Transfer to Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart (keep dough chilled that is not currently baking), flatten tops just slightly (to evenly level). Bake in preheated oven 8 – 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, melt 1 cup white chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp shortening at a time in microwave on HIGH power in 10 second intervals, stirring between intervals, until melted, smooth and fairly runny (I did batches of it because it will cool as your dipping, plus its easy to burn so you don’t want to work with too much of it at a time. Then once you’ve used it up melt more, you may not need all 3 cups). Dip half of each cookie in melted white chocolate mixture then run bottom of cookie slightly along edge of bowl to remove excess, then return to Silpat or parchment paper to set at room temperature.
  • Sprinkle sprinkles on top, after the long journey to decide which ones to use