Category Archives: dessert

Candy Bar Cookies

20130323_151053I know I just posted about cookies a few weeks ago, but what can I say? The world needs more cookies. I try to only grace my corner of the world with about a dozen cookies at a time because I feel the need to eat any cookies that come out of my oven as soon as possible…and well if I make more than a dozen, that’s just ludicrously unhealthy. I also tend to be really bad at planning ahead and having my pantry properly stocked, and so sometimes I have to get a little creative with my ingredients when the mood strikes to have something gooey, home baked and delicious in my hands in under an hour and without having to go to the store. The other day one of these adventures went insanely well. I wish I had a picture of the pure excitement on Evan’s face when he tried these cookies, but alas moments are fleeting, so I suppose you will have to try this recipe yourself and make some faces of your own.

It all started with an overwhelming craving for chocolate chip cookies brought on by a conversation with my friend Amber. She is currently teaching English on a 3 month job in Russia and blew my mind the other day by telling me that in Russia, chocolate chip cookies are “not a thing.” WHAT? I had a very strange moment of American pride followed by an intense desire to show the Russians just what they were missing (how exactly shoving a million cookies in my mouth thousands of miles away would prove anything to the Russians is now rather unclear to me, but it made sense in my frenzied state at the time). Off to the kitchen I charged, only to realize I had no eggs and no chocolate chips. Unfazed, I pulled up an egg-free chocolate chip recipe and dug out a chocolate candy bar that had been lurking around my snack shelf since Christmas (don’t ask me how it survived so long) and went to town. These cookies are simple, can be vegan if you don’t use animal milk or fat, and the dough can safely be eaten raw if that’s more your scene. If the dough does make it into the oven, the cookies that come out are light without being cakey, with moist centers and delightful craters of melted chocolate. I used a milk chocolate bar this time, but I see visions of toffee bar, crispy rice bar, and any other number of candy bar cookies in my future.

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Candy Bar Cookies 
recipe loosely adapted from Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies that Happen to be Vegan

1 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
chocolate candy bar (about the same amount of chocolate as a standard Hershey bar), chopped
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil or melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk, soy milk, or almond milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, candy bar pieces, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix in the oil, milk, and vanilla extract to form a sticky dough. Spoon dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Cool on sheet for 3-5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack (or your mouth).

Crispy-Chewy Pomegranate Molasses Ginger Cookies

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I love taking requests. I adore embarking on a quest to satisfy someone’s cravings in the most delicious way possible. This weekend my partner, Evan, requested that I find a way to make those big, chewy molasses cookies. You know, the big, dark, spicy rounds that have slightly crisp outer edges and fantastically moist centers? I didn’t have to be told twice.

In the process of tracking down a recipe, one of us remembered that we had picked up some pomegranate molasses a while back (we got it at an Asian supermarket but it is becoming increasingly popular and you may be able to find it at a standard grocery store), and a beautiful idea was born. Now I doubt I am the first person to think of this, but it certainly was the first time I’ve ever made or eaten pomegranate molasses cookies–and let me warn you, they are crazy addictive. They resemble ordinary molasses cookies in texture and in the delightful gingery bite, but they also bring to the table a nice fruitiness with a subtle, tart edge. I learned in the process of making them that the tartness will be overpowering if you simply substitute pomegranate molasses in place of regular dark molasses, so I added some brown sugar (which incidentally, adds even more delicious molasses!). The only thing I wish I could have done differently is coated them in some pretty, large-crystal sugar before baking…because who doesn’t love sparkly cookies?

Anticipating an urge to devour all the cookies in one sitting and not wanting to become incredibly ill, I purposely made a small batch. This recipe makes 15 or 16 cookies, so if you would like to make more than that, feel free to double the recipe. I also used half of a “flax egg” as my binding agent, but you can certainly substitute half a beaten egg (or a whole egg if you are doubling the recipe).

 

Chewy Pomegranate Molasses Ginger Cookies

Recipe loosely adapted from A Thought for Food

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1/2 recipe flax egg 

7-10 cubes crystallized ginger, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375°F and grease a cookie sheet or two. Combine butter, sugars, crystallized ginger,  flax egg and molasses in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to mixing bowl and combine with wet ingredients to form a well incorporated dough. Form dough into balls about the size of walnuts or golf balls, roll in sugar, and flatten slightly with a fork or spatula. I flattened mine with a bottle opener in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges begin to get crispy. Let cool for a few minutes, then enjoy!

Red Wine Chocolate Soufflés with Salted Caramel Sauce

I have found there to be a great fear of soufflés in the world of home cooks. I used to be afraid of them. I think the fear stems in part from the luxurious texture, the intense flavor-the overall amazing experience of enjoying a soufflé. We think to ourselves “it must be really tricky to make something this good.” About a year ago, I said to hell with it. I was tired of being afraid. I was going in. I found a recipe for cheese soufflé from an old neglected cookbook on my shelf, grabbed the whisk attachment for my standing mixer, and plunged into the dark of the previously unknown.

That day, I found out that soufflés are actually quite easy. I promise that you will be able to do this (as long as you use some form of an electric mixer-please do not try to whisk this by hand, you will be exhausted and probably unsuccessful). All you really need to do to be successful at making a soufflé (or many “intermediate” level recipes, really) is to read the recipe fully before starting so you are familiar with the steps you will be taking, and have all ingredients measured out in advance, because it all happens rather quickly.

Making caramel sauce is one of the only cooking endeavors at which I have failed miserably, time and time again. I figured as long as I was conquering a universal fear of soufflés this afternoon, why not finally face down caramel sauce once and for all? After reading this tutorial and practicing my game face in the mirror, I deemed myself ready to meet the challenge. Oh, what a delicious success it was.

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For the chocolate soufflés, I adapted a recipe from a large, basic cookbook I inherited from my mother. I love the way that red wine plays off the bitter notes in dark chocolate, so I decided to substitute some red wine for some of the milk in the recipe. If I were to make this again, I would probably up the chocolate to 3/4 cup, because I found the soufflé to be a little more cake-like than I would like. If you’re looking for a standard, fluffy soufflé, this recipe is really solid. If you are looking for something deeply rich and possibly even a little gooey, up the chocolate content a bit.

Red Wine and Dark Chocolate Soufflés
Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (2000 edition)

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
4 egg yolks, beaten
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 4 8-ounce ramekins and sprinkle the sides with a bit of sugar, then set aside. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour until combined, then add milk all at once and whisk until smooth. Increase heat to medium, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbling and has begun to thicken. Add chocolate and stir until melted, then remove from heat. Slowly combine 1/4 cup or so of the chocolate mixture with the beaten eggs, then slowly add the egg mixture into the rest of the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and vanilla with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat the mixture, until stiff peaks form. Fold about 1 cup of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold the chocolate mixture into the rest of the egg white mixture, being careful not to over mix, to maintain the “pillowy” texture.

Carefully transfer the chocolate “mousse” to the prepared ramekins and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until puffed up and lovely. While they are a cookin’, whip up a batch of salted caramel sauce, and serve them fresh from the oven, drizzled in caramel goodness.

For best results, do not open the oven at ALL during baking. It is chocolate soufflé, so if it turns out a little underdone, the worst that will happen is a molten center, and I have never met a chocolate lover who would complain about that. If you plan to make other soufflés in your oven, however, I would experiment with bake times on a chocolate soufflé and then apply that bake time to a cheese or other soufflé (as molten egg-y cheese might not be quite as well received, though probably still delicious).

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Edit: I posted this the night that I made the souffles. I made four souffles for two already very stuffed people, and we ended up with three leftover ramekins of delicious chocolate goodness that I feared would be exceedingly underwhelming the next day. The exact opposite was true. Leave these sit a day in the fridge, pop them in the microwave, and drizzle them with some warmed up caramel sauce…and melt into a puddle of delirious fudgy joy.