Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chocolate Caramel Sandwich Cookies

I really do not make sandwich cookies all that often.  I believe it is the time factor.  My attitude is that if you are going bake something that requires a lot of time, make sure that the results are well worth it. 

These proved to be a worthwhile endeavor.  You will not find this type of cookie sitting on the grocery shelf, which makes it unusual. The flavors and textures really compliment each other.  Between the crumbly rich chocolate of the cookie and the buttery chewy caramel, these bite size morsels really do hit the spot.

This recipe states that it makes 30 cookies, but for some reason I ended up with nearly double that amount.

Chocolate Caramel Sandwich Cookies
adapted from Bon Appetit/Nov 2010 issue

1/4 cup butter (cut into cubes)
2 1/4 cup of sugar
1 tbs light corn syrup
1/3 cup of honey
2 tbs vanilla extract or a lengthwise split vanilla bean
1 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup plus 1 tbs sugar
2/3 cup natural cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 egg
3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks of butter
1/4 tsp salt

Prepare an 8X8 square cake pan by brushing oil on the interior of the pan.  Then line the bottom with parchment paper and brush the surface of the paper with oil as well.

To make the caramel, fill a medium size saucepan with the sugar, cream, honey and corn syrup.  If using vanilla bean, scrape the seeds into the mixture.  Place pan over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat and stop stirring.  Using a candy thermometer as a gauge, let the mixture come to a boil and cook until it registers about 250 degrees.  This should take about 8 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and add butter.  If using vanilla extract, add it at this time.  Stir until butter is completely melted and mixture is smooth.  Pour into prepared cake pan.  Let caramel cool completely.

While that is cooling, the cookies can be made.  Sift together flour, salt and cocoa powder in one bowl.  In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the egg and beat for 15 seconds and then scrape down sides of bowl.  Beat for an additional 15 seconds.  Using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in the sifted ingredients.

Form the dough into a flat disc and cover with plastic wrap.  Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Once the dough has chilled, roll out to a 1/4 inch thickness and cut out rounds using a 1 1/2 inch  cookie cutter.  Place each round 1 inch apart on cookie sheet.  Bake cookies for about 12 minutes.  They should have a firm center when done.  Remove baked cookies from pan and place on rack to cool. Repeat the process until all the dough has been converted to cooled cookies.

Invert caramel filled pan onto smooth clean surface.  Peel off parchment paper.  Take a 1 inch round cutter and cut out caramel disks.  Place each disk on the bottom side of a cookie and top with an additional cookie, with bottom side facing caramel.  Press lightly and repeat process until all cookies are sandwiched together.
                           **Last Year: Maui Pine Cream Pie**


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookie Pie

The name "cookie pie" makes me think of those big chocolate chip cookies at the mall that you can have decorated.  However, this particular recipe does not fall into that category.

As you can tell by the picture, it looks to have a closer resemblance to pie rather than cookie.  There is a pie crust layer with melted butterscotch chips, pecans and a brown sugar filling.  As far as the oatmeal, it has enough to give it some chewy texture but is not overwhelming.

I have always considered butterscotch one of the forgotten flavors,  It was a nice change of pace and well liked by the crowd of eaters.

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookie Pie
adapted from Pie by Ken Haedrich

1 basic single crust pie pastry, refrigerated
1/4 cup whole milk or light cream
3 eggs, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup or one stick of butter
1/3 cup cake or regular flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/3 cup rolled oats

Roll the pastry on a floured surface into a 13 inch circle.   Place the pastry evenly into a 9 1/2 inch deep dish pie pan.  Press the pastry into the pan, taking care not to stretch it.  Shape the top edge of the dough as desired.  Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the filling, use a mixer and cream the butter until smooth.  Then add the brown sugar in 1/2 cup increments, beating 30 seconds after each addition.  Then scrape down the sides and add one egg and beat for 30 seconds.  A the rest of the eggs, one at a time, and beat each for 30 seconds or until completely blended.

Beat in the vanilla extract.  Then fold in the flour, oats and salt until no dry streaks remain.  Mix in the milk until blended.  Lastly, add the pecans and butterscotch chips.

Place pie in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Then rotate back to front and bake for 30 minutes more.  Once the time is up, the pie should not jiggle when moved and should have a brown filling. Transfer to rack and let cool.  You can either serve warm or refrigerate for 2 hours and then serve cold.

Tips and Notes:
1. Feel free to mix up the type of chips in the batter.  The recipe also suggests 1/2 butterscotch and 1/2 chocolate chips.
2. For people with nut allergies, add an extra 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips and eliminate the pecans.

                                          **LAST YEAR: Jade and Suede Cheesecake**                    

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lemon Limoncello Cupcakes

It has been so overcast and gloomy here, so I was looking for a nice treat to remind me of summer.  When I think of summer, the flavor of lemon is the first to come to mind.

These cupcakes were the perfect fix.  They are bursting with tart lemony flavor.  The curd filling is really what put these over the top when it comes to flavor.  Also, nothing goes better with lemon than a cream cheese topping. This recipe makes 1 dz cupcakes.

Lemon Limoncello Cupcakes
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients/Lemon Curd filling
1 egg
1 egg yolk
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup of lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

2 tbs limoncello
3 eggs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup or 1/2 stick of butter (room temp)
2 oz cream cheese (room temp)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
zest of 1 lemon

4 oz cream cheese (room temp)
1 tbs limoncello
1/4 cup or 1/2 stick of butter (room temp)
2 cups powdered sugar
sprinkles (optional)

Start with making the filling.  Place sugar, lemon zest and juice in a saucepan.  Put pan over medium heat, let come to a simmer and remove from heat.  In another bowl, whisk together egg and egg yolk until a little frothy.  Add half of the lemon mixture to the eggs and whisk until completely blended.  Then whisk in the remaining lemon mixture.  Pour back into the saucepan and put over medium heat again.  Let the mixture cook, while stirring constantly for a total of 5 minutes.  Remove and let cool completely.  Then pour into bowl, cover surface of curd with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the cupcakes, start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the top edge of the cavities of a 12 capacity cupcake pan and fill with paper liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.  Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with butter, cream cheese and and sugar.  Using the paddle attachment, beat the ingredients together for about 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Then beat in each egg, one at a time, for 30 seconds.  Pour in the limoncello and beat for about a minute until distributed evenly throughout the batter.

Remove bowl from mixer and, using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in 1/3 of the sifted ingredients. Then mix in 1/4 cup of buttermilk. Repeat the process, ending with the last 1/3 of the flour mixture. Add the zest and the lemon juice and stir until blended.

With an ice cream scoop or a spoon, evenly fill each cavity of the muffin tin with the batter.  Place pan in oven and bake until tester comes out clean.  This should take about 18-20 minutes.  Remove pan, let cool for one minute and transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack.  Cool completely before proceeding to the filling and icing stages.

Using whatever tool you choose (knife, melon baller, opposite end of pastry tip, etc) core out a hole in the middle of each cupcake.  Remove the lemon curd from the refrigerator.  Spoon the curd into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip.  Fill each cupcake with the lemon curd. Using a knife, smooth over the surface of the curd, making sure that the top of the curd is flush with the top of the cupcake.

For the frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.  This should take about 3 minutes.  Then beat in the limoncello, running the mixer at medium speed for 1 minute.  Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl in 4 increments, beating until blended for each increment.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that no powder remains.  After all is blended, fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the frosting and decorate.  Top with sprinkles if desired.

                            **LAST YEAR:Banana Nut & Dulce De Leche Coffeecake**