Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Daring Bakers! Chocolate Coconut Cookies

 Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own from all over the world with us.

Thanksgiving break is over, and it's back to the daily grind of college. My lucky sister, whose school runs on trimesters, is already off for her six week winter break, and will be heading out to Dubai for a couple weeks to study African-Arab women. So cultured! Even though I only have three weeks left of the semester, it seems like there are so many obstacles to overcome before I get that sweet, sweet Christmas break. But there will be good things in between, and I can't forget that.

For right now, I will think about cookies and puppies (you should adopt a dog. It'll be your best friend forever. I mean, c'mon, look at this lil' guy!) Anticipating Christmas, this month's Daring Baker's Challenge was the 12 Days of Cookies! Fortunately (unfortunately?) we didn't have to make all twelve types, but instead had a choice! I like choices. One of the cookies on the list was rainbow cookies, which I adore, but I've already made them. You should make them soon. They are delightful.

I opted instead for these Chocolate Coconut Cookies, which I think was a great decision. I lurve the combination of chocolate and coconut. The outside cookie is sort of a cross between shortbread and sugar cookie, and the inside is like a coconut macaroon (except better, cause they have cream cheese, nomnomnom). If you make these, you'll likely have extra filling, so make some macaroons! Also also, these totally look like siu mai. They aren't, but you could make some and have a delicious dim sum and cookie dinner!

Chocolate Coconut Cookies
from Baking Glory
Coconut Filling
6oz / 175ml Cream Cheese, softened
¾ cup Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
2 ¼ cup Coconut Flakes, unsweetened
Cookie Dough
1 ¾ cup All Purpose Flour
⅓ cup Cocoa Powder, sifted
½ tsp Baking Soda
¼ tsp Salt
1 ½ sticks Butter, unsalted
1 cup Sugar
1 Egg
Preparation Instructions
Beat the cream cheese with the ¾ cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk, and vanilla extract and continue mixing for another minute.
Add the shredded coconut and continue beating until everything is well incorporated.
Preheat oven to 375° F / 190° C.
In a medium size bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. In the bowl of a mixer add the butter and sugar and beat together until light and fluffy, add the egg and beat until smooth.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until the mixture is stiff but still pliable.
Using a tablespoon, scoop some of the cookie dough into your hand. Flatten the dough into a circle that’s about 2in to 3in (5cm to 7.5cm) in diameter, add about a teaspoon of the coconut mixture into the middle of it and then fold the sides of the dough but do not seal it at the top.
Repeat this with remaining cookie dough.
Place the cookies on a greased cookie sheet and bake the cookies at 375° F / 190° C for about 18 to 20 minutes
Cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

21! With "Hot" Chocolate

Happy Thanksgiving, American readers! and if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, that's okay. I hope you are having an especially wonderful Thursday. Yesterday, I turned 21. The day was pretty mellow overall. I made a loaf of bread, read a little, played bananagrams, talked to friends....became captivated by my brother's game of Skyrim. My mother made me one of these.

It was a lovely, atypical 21st. I kind of felt obligated to drink something though. There was a pretty bottle of Riesling in the basement that I opened up. I made a face as I took a sip. Dry. Meh. I found it palatable after liberally diluting it with Sprite. I'm a lightweight, haha. 

But ermahgerd, I got a macro lens!!!

But I had to try again! Amaretto and cream is pretty tasty...I browsed around for something a little more exciting and found a recipe for "hot" chocolate. Milk combined with cocoa, spices, and a shot of whiskey? That sounded...pretty delicious, actually. And it was. Mostly because I could hardly taste the whiskey and it was more like spicy chocolate milk. So there you have it. Rebecca doesn't really like booze. Now that that's out of the way, I can get back to baking! 

"Hot" Chocolate
by Heo Yeah Yum

1 tbsp cocoa powder (the kind you bake with, not the Swiss Mix kind)
2 tsp malted milk powder
2 tbsp sugar
1 red Thai chili
1 clove
⅛ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup cold milk
1 oz whiskey (or 1½ if you want it boozier, or omit for the kids)
red pepper flakes (for looks!)

In a mortar, grind red chili with clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, releasing the flavors with a pestle.
In the mortar or a cocktail shaker, add the chili and spices with milk, whiskey, sugar, malt powder, and cocoa powder. Shake or stir well.
Pour into a serving glass and sprinkle some pepper flakes over the top.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Scenes From My Life

Whenever I read blogs, I kind of wonder what bloggers do in the outside world. Y'know, when they're not taking pictures of their perfectly positioned food or telling amazing, relevant stories. I'm not bitter, I just am incredibly aware of how far away I am from that position. I am nowhere near perfect. And as much as I wish I could make something like this my life...I'm not at that point. I have homework, haha. Do you want to see some of the things I do outside of the blog? 

I've grown increasingly fond of rock climbing over this semester. It's so fulfilling for me to set challenges just for myself and feel my strength growing until I can reach my goals. 

This is Jackie. She is a ham.

I volunteer at the humane shelter once a week, feeding cats and cleaning out their cages, and walking and playing with dogs. It makes me sad that there are so many strays/abandoned pets, but I've seen so many get new homes. I really commend those who adopt.

Last weekend I went to a Diwali festival. Previously, I knew next to nothing about the holiday, and I'm so glad I got the opportunity to learn more about it. Also, I tried to make halwa and planned on doing a Diwali blog post, but it failed miserably. Such is life.

Last night was International Food Night, an opportunity to students to visit different honor houses and try foods from all over the world. The house I cooked in had food from Japan and Paraguay. The above is Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake. I met a lot of new, great people and learned how to cook something I've never made before! 

Here is my latest baking experiment - Cocoa biscuits with brown sugar cinnamon butter. They're not very sweet, and more like a cakey brownie than a biscuit, but I like them. Something simple to fill the baking urge. I'll share the recipe.

So there's my life. Thanks for letting me share with you. 

Cocoa Biscuits with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Butter

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup brown sugar + 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda, and whisk until combined. Using a fork, pastry blender or your hands, add butter pieces to the flour and mix until coarse little crumbles remain. Add buttermilk and vanilla, stirring with a spoon until just combined, not overmixing. Use your hands if needed to bring the dough together.
Use  1/4 cup measure to drop batter onto a nonstick baking sheet, or press dough on a sheet of parchment paper or cutting board, then using a biscuit cutter to shape the dough into rounds. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until biscuits are set and slightly golden on the edges. Serve immediately.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
Add all ingredients in a bowl and mash until combined!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Secret Recipe Club - Black and White Cookies

Hello everyone! This post almost perfectly coincides with my two year blogiversary. Wows! Time flies. This blog has become such a big part of my life, and I am so thankful for everyone who has even glanced at this blog. Without you...I dunno what this would be. A diary? Anyway...last year I talked about some highlight posts of the year, and I will now do the same! 

I have two posts I am most proud of - 

Eight Textured Tiramisu and Chocolate Marshmallow Malt Cake. Both of these took many hours and much ingenuity to finish, but it was all worth it in the end! Completing something like this makes me so happy.

Here is the most popular post - 

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream. By a long shot. Their popularity puzzles me, since they are so simple. I think the pretty frosting drew people in ^_^

But we will no longer dwell in the past! Today is my last Secret Recipe Club for a long time, since I don't know what my oven situation in Ireland will be. I am SO glad I got assigned to Melissa over at Smells Like Brownies! She's very funny and self deprecating, which I appreciate in a writer. And she had a post about black and white cookies! In which she referenced You've Got Mail! I think we could easily be friends, haha. 

Hello, little frog back there.

Do you know black and white cookies? They're kind of a New York thing and traditionally, like, as big as your face. Cakey like a whoopie pie, but...a little denser? All you need to know is they're delicious. I tried to make these a while back and something weeeeird happened to the chocolate frosting. It all just sank right into the cookie. This time, I felt the chocolate was a little too thick. Someday I'll find that middle ground. 

 On a side note, I had to re-enable word verification on my comments. I'm sorry, cause I know it's annoying, but I was getting so many spam comments that it was driving me nuts. Please don't stop commenting!

Black and White Cookies 

Cookie Ingredients:
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2½ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
⅔ cup buttermilk
1½ tsp. vanilla extract

Vanilla Glaze Ingredients:
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2–3 tbsp. milk

Chocolate Glaze Ingredients:
6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp. butter
1½ tbsp. light corn syrup

Preheat oven to 350°. Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper.
Beat together butter and sugar in a mixer bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest. Add the eggs, beating until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl at least once.
Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup.
Mix the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture alternately into the creamed butter and sugar, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl between each addition.
Spoon ¼ cups of batter at least 2″ apart onto a the prepared baking sheets (no more than 6 cookies per sheet).
Bake 13–16 minutes, until tops are puffed and golden, and cookies spring back when touched. Remove the parchment with the cookies still on top from the hot cookie sheets and let cool on the counter for 30 minutes.
Prepare the vanilla glaze by stirring together the sifted confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract, and milk. Add in the milk 1 tbsp. at a time until the mixture is smooth and liquidy, but spreadable.
In a separate bowl, melt the butter and the chocolate in a microwave for about 1 minute. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. Add the corn syrup and stir until smooth.
Glaze the backs of each cookie. First spread vanilla over one half of each cookie, then let it set for a minute or two. Then spread the chocolate over the second half, trying to keep a neat line down the center if possible.
Let the cookies set at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Store in an airtight container, or wrap individually in plastic wrap.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chocolate Pumpkin Breads

Well hey there. October passed in a flash, which is somewhat frightening, due to the fact that I am now merely weeks away from my 21st birthday (the age at which my mother will consider me a "real" adult, haha). Also, before I know it, I'll be in Ireland for four months. Of course that's exciting, but there are still so many unknowns right now, and it'll be sad to leave everything familiar. You knew I was going to Ireland, right? I feel like I've mentioned it offhandedly. Here's a picture which totally doesn't capture its behemoth-like proportions. 

Still, this is a booming metropolis compared to my school. 

So anyway, I'm embracing the pumpkin while I still have time. Although I have a sad pumpkin I planned to carve for Halloween sitting in the corner of my room. I hate that I didn't have time to carve it when I promised myself that I would. It's bothering me more than it probably should be. Well...Thanksgiving pumpkin?

These, despite having pumpkin in them, hardly tasted like pumpkin at all to me. Maybe it was more for...moisture? They're pretty homely. The supposed to be appetizing sugar crust looks sort of like...mold. I swear it's not. And someone stole the muffin pan so I had to make them more cinnamon rollish than was intended. And the chocolate chips look A LOT like raisins. Suspiciously so. I assure you they're not. Raisins will never make an appearance on this blog. I promise. Now that I've done such a great job selling these to you...haha, I dunno. Go enjoy your extra hour. 

Chocolate Pumpkin Breads 

by Hungry Girl por Vida 

1/3 cup warm milk
1/3 cup plain pumpkin puree
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons unsalted, softened butter
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
8 ounces (1 cup) chocolate chips, or chopped bar
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Egg Wash:
1 egg
1 Tablespoon cream
sugar for sprinkling

In measuring cup, combine milk with yeast and a pinch of sugar. Allow to proof 5 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin and the egg. In a large bowl, combine flour, remaining sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Add the yeast-pumpkin mixture and mix on low to combine (if you have a stand mixer. Otherwise, spoon/hands are cool). Add the butter 2 Tablespoons at a time, mixing until the butter is incorporated before adding the rest. Scrape dough from the paddle, add the dough hook attachment  and knead on medium speed for 10 minutes. The dough will be quite sticky and stringy. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

While the dough rises, make the filling. In the bowl of a food processor, process all ingredients until all of the butter is distributed and you have an uneven, gravely mixture. Or just chop at it violently with butter knives, which is what I did. Set aside.
Liberally butter a 12-cup muffin tin. Or not. A square or rectangle or round pan is cool too. Set aside.
Once dough has risen, turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and gently deflate. Allow to rest 5 more minutes, before rolling the dough out into a large rectangle, the short end measuring about 12 inches–the long edge can be about 18-22 inches. Sprinkle the chocolate filling evenly over the rectangle, it will be bumpy, and begin rolling from the short end all the way up into a 12-13 inch log and pinch to seal. Gently saw off about 1-inch spirals, placing each into a prepared tin. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise another hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350*F.
Whisk together the egg and cream, brush gently over the tops of the proofed buns and sprinkle liberally with sugar. Bake in the center of the oven for 15-25 minutes. Mine took closer to 25 minutes to bake. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.