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Oh My! These are to die for. When I first made them last month, my husband and mother-in-law ate almost the entire batch in one sitting. I mean, they really are good. Well, that’s if you like cookie dough, and really, who doesn’t?.  I had to actually hide the latest batch deep in the freezer from my husband since every time I turned around another 5 would be gone. He was not happy with me, but you will be after you try these.

Some time ago I  saw a recipe for cookie dough frosting over at the Cupcake Project that really intrigued me, and then over at the library I stumbled upon “The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook” and I knew I had to give some of these recipes a try. The concept is simple, just delete the eggs from the recipe and replace the lost moisture with a little cream or milk. You also don’t need any leavening since these are not going to be baked. This only takes minutes to mix up, but then the wait… at least an hour in the fridge so the dough can firm up. You then roll the chilled dough into bite sized balls, freeze for an hour, then dip into chocolate candy coating, such as Wiltons. Do not use regular melted chocolate such as chocolate chips or block chocolate unless you plan on tempering it first, which you can do, but for this recipe it is a pain and unnecessary .The flavor combinations are only limited to what you put into them. I promise these will be a huge hit with your family and friends during the holidays. Bake On! Oh wait, you don’t need to bake……

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First: The Basic

1/2 Cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 Tablespoons cream (or half and half or whole milk)
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon black walnut extract (optional, but adds a really nice depth)
1  1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt  (I prefer to use kosher)
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

8 oz dark chocolate candy coating

1 Tablespoon vegetable shortening (this is to help your coating be more fluid)

Beat the butter and sugars together in your mixer (using the paddle attachment), or by hand, for at least 3 minutes, or until it becomes fluffy and light in color. Mix in the extracts and cream. Stir in the flour and salt and mix just until everything is incorporated. Finally, stir in the chips. Cover and chill the dough in the fridge for at least an hour (or up to 3 days)

Roll the dough into 1 inch balls  and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Put the tray into the freezer for 30 minutes.

Melt the chocolate coating. This can easily be done in the microwave; just place the chocolate into a glass bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Let it sit for 30 seconds then cook for another minute. Stir in the vegetable shortening until it is completely combined and fluid . Drop in one ball at a time and lift out with the tines of a fork, gently tapping it against the bowl to remove excess; immediately transfer back to the parchment lined sheet. Since the cookie dough is now frozen the coating will set up really fast. If you want to put some sprinkles on them only do a few at time so the coating doesn’t firm up too fast.

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These will keep in the fridge for 1 week or in the freezer for 1 month.

Second: The Reverse

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1/2 Cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 Tablespoons cream (or half and half or whole milk)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted (I like Barry Callebaut extra brute)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini white chocolate chips

12 ounces (1 bag) white chocolate candy coating (you will need to double dip these so the dark chocolate filling doesn’t show through)
2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening

Beat the butter and sugars together in your mixer (using the paddle attachment), or by hand, for at least 3 minutes, or until it becomes fluffy and light in color. Mix in the extract and cream. Stir in the flour, cocoa powder and salt and mix just until everything is incorporated. Finally, stir in the chips. Cover and chill the dough in the fridge for at least an hour (or up to 3 days).

Form into 1 inch balls and freeze for 30 minutes.

Melt the white chocolate candy coating. Follow the procedure above for dipping them, except for these when you get to the end start back at the beginning and dip them a second time so the dark filling doesn’t show. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.

Third: Vanilla Sugar Cookie Dough Studded With Roasted Cocoa Nibs

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1/2 Cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 Cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons cream (or half and half or whole milk)
1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup roasted cocoa nibs

10 ounces dark chocolate candy coating
1 1/2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening

Beat the butter and sugar together in your mixer (using the paddle attachment), or by hand, for at least 3 minutes, or until it becomes fluffy and light in color. Mix in the extract and vanilla seeds. Stir in the flour and salt and mix just until everything is incorporated. Finally, stir in the cocoa nibs. Cover and chill the dough in the fridge for at least an hour (or up to 3 days).

For these I rolled the dough out between two pieces of parchment until it was about 1/3 inch. Then using a small 1 1/2 inch circle cutter I cut out 28 circles.

Dip into the melted chocolate as above (only one dipping required).

Hope you LOVE these!

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This month’s Bakers Challenge was hosted by Jason at Dailycandor.com. He introduced us to two very interesting and delicious Armenian desserts : Nazook (or nazuk, nazouk) and scented nutmeg cake. Both are winners.

Nazook is a rolled sweet pastry cookie which I thought was very similar to rugelach but the dough is made with yeast and sour cream. The dough is quite simple in fact, just flour, yeast, sour cream and butter. The fact that  there is no sugar is really nice and offsets the sweet filling. The traditional way is a vanilla filling but I also made a fig version and a cinnamon walnut version. I think this is one recipe that is hands down best the traditional way. While all three were incredibaly delicious (and not too sweet), the vanilla the stellar. If you have vanilla beans, this is the time to break them out. I used both vanilla bean seeds and pure vanilla extract for a double vanilla flavor. Pure heaven.

Nazook

Pastry dough

3 cups (720 ml) (420 gm/15 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
2½ teaspoons (12½ ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) sour cream
1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) softened butter (room temperature)

Filling

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (210 gm) (7½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (340 gm/12 oz) sugar
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) softened butter (room temperature)
seeds from 1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
Wash
1-2 egg yolks

Directions:

Make the Pastry Dough

Place the sifted flour into a large bowl. Add the dry yeast, and mix well. Add the sour cream and softened butter.
Use your hands, or a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, to work it into a dough. If using a standing mixer, switch to a dough hook. If making manually, continue to knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl or your hands. If it remains very sticky, add some flour, a little at a time.
Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight if you like.

Make the filling

 Mix the flour, sugar, and the butter in a medium bowl. Add the seeds from a scraped vanilla bean  (if using) and  vanilla extract. Mix the filling until it looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long. Set aside.

Make the nazook

 Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.

 Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters. Form one of the quarters into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not transparent.Spread 1/4 of the filling mixture across the rolled-out dough in an even layer. Try to spread the filling as close as possible to the edges on the short sides, but keep some of pastry dough uncovered (1 inch/2.5 cm) along the long edges. From one of the long sides, start slowly rolling the dough across. Be careful to make sure the filling stays evenly distributed. Roll all the way across until you have a long, thin loaf.Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).

 Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush.

Use a crinkle cutter (I used a serrated bread  knife) to cut the loaf into 10 equally sized pieces. Put onto an ungreased cookie sheet.Place in a preheated moderate oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are a rich, golden brown. Cool and then try not to eat all of them!

 Next up…

Armenian Nutmeg Cake

1 cup (240 ml) milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour (I used pastry flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups (480 ml) (400 gm/14 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed (I used demerara sugar)
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup (120 ml) (55 gm/2 oz) walnut pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
1 egg

Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.

Mix the baking soda (not baking powder; that’s for the next step) into the milk. Set it aside. Sift together the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl.Add the brown sugar and mix together.Cut the butter with a fork into the dry ingredients (you can use your food processor like I did). You’ll want to achieve a more-or-less uniform, tan-colored crumbly mixture.

Take HALF of this resulting crumbly mixture into your springform (9”/23cm) pan. Press a crust out of it using your fingers and knuckles. It will be easy.Crack an egg into a mixer or bowl and add the nutmeg .

Start mixing slowly with a whisk attachment and then increase to medium speed, or mix with a hand whisk if you’re doing it manually (or process for 60 seconds). Once it’s mixed well and frothy, pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until uniform. Pour in the rest of the crumbly mixture. Mix well until thoroughly combined and fluid.Pour the batter over the base in the springform pan and sprinkle the walnut pieces over the batter.

Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 30-40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the top is a golden brown, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan,release and enjoy!

freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: Nazook will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of weeks, and the Armenian nutmeg cake will keep (covered) at room temperature for 2-3 days. Both taste even better still warm from the oven.

Allow to cool completely before attempting to freeze. Nazook will freeze best if put in a freezer bag with all the air squeezed out. Armenian Nutmeg Cake will also freeze fairly well if completely sealed. Both can be frozen for up to 3 months.
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Happy New Year

Yes, I know, I know, I know. It’s been 6 weeks since my last post. I’m not making any excuses for myself. I have been in New York visiting my mom for the holidays and just didn’t make time to fit it in. Everyone needs a break, right? Not that I have taken a break from baking. Far from it. I have baked more in the last 6 weeks than I have in months. I’m just too tired at the end of the day to write about it! Here is a small sampling of what has been going on in the kitchen….

Sugar cookies, Stollen bites,

cashew caramel cookies, cocoa blocks

Cranberry Turtle bars, Brandied Fruit Squares*, Creole pecan bars

Skinny Peanut Wafers*, Peanut Madness Chunks**,

Vanilla  Sugar Cookies, Red Velvet shortbread

Chocolate covered sandwich cookies with dulce de leche, Brioche

Double Chocolate Chunk cookies, Red Velvet swiss roll with rasberry cream cheese filling

And so I want to wish everyone a wonderful beginning to a New Yearfilled with love and baking!

* From Maeda Heatters Great book of Cookies

** From Baking by Flavor by Lisa Yockelson

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No Recipes today, just wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween. Here are a few pictures of some of the cookies I have been decorating for the season. The skull in the bottom right hand corner is actually a 3D white chocolate mold filled with gumdrops. I got the mold for $1.50 (!!!) at Michaels the other day; it is made by Wilton.

I also found these super easy to use transfer sheets for $1.49. It contained 8 transfers, so I thought that was a really good deal. These were purchased at Winner’s, which is the Canadian equivalent to TJ Maxx or Marshalls. The message here? always be on the lookout !!

What I really love about these is that ANYONE can do this- no previous experience necessary. What’s better than that? Baking from Scratch couldn’t be easier when you find fun decorating tools like this. Bake on!

Now off to prepare the little one for tonight…..

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In case you haven’t heard, Canada Post has been on strike for the past 3 weeks. The workers were at first doing rotating strikes so as not to disrupt the postal service too much, but as of 2 weeks ago, corporate has locked out all 48,000 employees. My husband has been an employee for 36 years, working his tail off and is now on the picket line every day for 8-10 hours. Since I have been baking 2-3 batches of cookies everyday for the past week for all of the people walking the line (in the pouring rain)at our local office, I keep trying to bake new things. This is one of them. It is really easy to put together but super moist and flavorful. Bake on!

2 C (240 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 C (96 g) dutch process cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 C (227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (109 g) light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 (300 g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 Cup (80 g) shredded coconut (I prefer to use dessicated, or unsweetened)
3/4 C(83 g) cashews, coarsely chopped

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions. Add the vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients and combine on low-speed. Stir in the coconut and the cashews. With a spoon, scoop up a walnut sized piece and gently roll it in your hands. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on your prepared baking sheet. Bake for exactly 9 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Snickerdoodles

It seems a lot of cookies have been getting baked here this past week. The freezer is starting to get very full…

Snickerdoodles are one of those cookies that everyone seems to remember from their childhood. I myself remember baking them in 4-H when I was in grade school. Recipes for snickerdoodles can be found in cookbooks dating as far back as 1902. Since cinnamon is a spice that goes back thousands of years it makes sense that this cookie has been around for so long as,too. In the days before baking powder was invented, cream of tartar and baking soda were the leavening agents of the day. That is what this recipe uses. It also has cinnamon chips in it, to heighten the cinnamon sensation. Hersheys make these as well as King Arthur flour. Here in Canada, you can get them at Bulk Barn. It has been years since I have made snickerdoodles,but now that my daughter has discovered them I have a feeling we will be baking these a lot more often…. Bake On!

SNICKERDOODLES

1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) vegetable shortening
1/2 cup  (3 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups (11 5/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
cinnamon-sugar*
1 1/2  cups (9 ounces) cinnamon chips

*cinnamon-sugar: 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line  two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Beat together the shortening, butter  and sugar till smooth, then add the eggs, again beating till smooth. Beat in the vanilla, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt, then add the flour, mixing slowly till combined. (If you beat the dough too much at this point, your cookies run the risk of being tough.) Add the chips once the flour is mixed in. Place about 1/2 cup cinnamon-sugar in a small bowl.

Using a small spoon, scoop up walnut sized amounts of cookie dough and gently roll them in your hands to form a ball. Drop  into the bowl with the sugar, about 6 to 8 balls at a time. Gently shake the bowl to coat the dough balls with sugar. Place them on the parchment-lined cookie sheet, leaving about 1 ½” between them. Using the bottom of a glass,  flatten each cookie till it’s about ¼” thick and 1 ½” in diameter. Repeat till you’ve used up all the dough.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 11 minutes, reversing the position of the pans (top to bottom, and back to front) midway through. They’ll be set and just starting to turn golden. Remove the cookies from the oven, and cool them on a rack. When they’re cool, top them with the merest dusting of ground cinnamon; a tea strainer or other very fine sieve works well here.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/superdoodles-recipe

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Tozzetti

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We just got back from a fantastic week-long holiday around the pacific northwest peninsula. Since flying has gotten so expensive, it does not look like I will get to go back to NY this summer to see my mom (don’t even get me started), my husband took us away on a small trip for my birthday. We drove to Olympic National Park and Seattle. If you ever get the chance to go to Olympic National Park, do so. It is so amazingly beautiful, with rainforests, ocean views, and very snowy mountains.  We stayed in Olympia, Forks (home of the Twilight series), and Port Angeles before heading to Seattle for 2 days.  While in Seattle we stayed at the gorgeous Turret House which is owned by our friend William. I can’t recommend it enough; great location (Trader Joe’s is 2 blocks away!) , super clean, full kitchen,and  very cozy! Since William was kind enough to let us stay there I brought him some of these very travel friendly biscotti as a small token of appreciation. These are definitely dunking material, so start brewing a pot of coffee.
TOZZETTI

Butter, for greasing pan
3 1/2 cups flour, plus
   more for pan
1 tbsp. baking powder
2 cups whole blanched
   almonds, toasted
1 1/2 cups whole blanched hazelnuts,
   toasted
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 eggs
1/4 cup anise-flavored liqueur, like
   sambuca
1 tbsp. crushed aniseed
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 375°. Grease and flour a 10″ x 15″ jelly roll pan; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder; toss in nuts. In a bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs for at least 5 minutes, until very light and airy;whisk in sambuca, aniseed, and vanilla. Add flour mixture; fold. Pour into pan; bake until golden, 20 minutes. Let biscotti cool.

2. Reduce oven temperature to 325°. Remove cooled biscotti slab from pan; cut crosswise into twenty 10″-long strips; cut each strip in half to form forty 5″-long strips. Transfer strips to parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing strips 1/2″ apart. Bake until golden brown, 20–25 minutes. Let cool.

Recipe Source: Saveur

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