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Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category

I’ve been a negligent baker this month. I don’t have anyone or anything to blame, except maybe a work trip and mini-holiday here:

But before I went there, I made these:

for a Super Bowl party and forgot to blog about it. Note that these cookies are designed for true chocolate-lovers. The recipe is here.

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‘Tis kind of a big day in Baker Meg history. For the first time ever I have successfully baked something healthy-ish and original by myself, without a recipe, and the result doesn’t taste like duck poop.

Back it up. Today was a pseudo snow-day for me, so I was only willing to bake something that required minimal effort and movement. Although OPM failed DC residents by and large, my generous employer permitted us to “telecommute” anyway, so I spent most of my day working in HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE 10 minute increments with some obligatory + creativity-inducing gchat/google reader/staring at the ceiling time in between.

After completing my successful work day at home, I remembered that I had all this pomegranate molasses left over from my cupcakes last week. I also had half a bag of white chocolate chips randomly in my cupboard. The two seemed complementary in my mind, so I went ahead and married them in a white-spelt flour wedding. And it was meant to be.

Pomegranate molasses white chocolate cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup spelt four
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in one bowl. In another large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, pomegranate molasses, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix together until just combined. Fold in the white chocolate chips. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add tablespoon-sized pieces of dough to the sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, until golden. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, before transferring to a cooling rack.

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Yay, it’s almost Christmas! You know how I know? Let me tell you. If I had a dollar for every email that infiltrated my inbox this past week looking like this: Homemade cupcakes in the kitchen!! Happy holidays everyone!!! ENJOY!! I would have enough money to buy a Venti Starbucks peppermint mocha, perhaps even two.

I promise that I’m not a grinch. In fact, I’ve been listening to Christmas music all day. I have a red candle. JC and I share a birthday. But as a year-round unprofessional baker, one of my least favorite tensions associated with the holiday season is what I like to call the abundance of loaded baked goods in the office dilemma.

You probably have no idea what I’m ranting about, and that’s understandable, because you are a normal person. But to me, the occasionally jittery and sensitive female baker, the situation unfolds like this: as fair-weather (i.e. holiday) bakers descend upon the office kitchen with piles and piles of frosted cookies, confetti cupcakes, peppermint brownies, sprinkled donuts, etc., a desire to provide the most liked office treat becomes intense and very real. Unlimited supply meets limited demand. And since the people who bring in homemade treats rarely eat them–it’s too taboo or something–you, the non-baker/innocent bystander, become the target eater. Don’t even try to politely refuse a cookie from one colleague while you literally finish eating a giant cupcake “baked with love” from another colleague. It won’t work. Unless you smile and take a big bite and say “mmm! wow! so good! thank you so much!” you are not a team player.

Yes, I’m ridiculous. That’s why I decided to do my new colleagues a favor and abstain from bringing baked goods into the office this week. So I waited until today, Saturday, a safe day. And it was perfect. I hope people like these cookies tonight. I will try really hard not to care if they don’t.

If you’re still here after all that superfluous blabbing, I bring you a recipe for the chocolate peppermint bark cookie.

Peppermint bark cookies (adapted from Bon Appetit)

Ingredients
Nonstick vegetable oil spray or butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup chopped peppermint candies or candy canes
2 oz white chocolate

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 13×9 inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter in large bowl until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar. Continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then egg yolk. Gradually add flour mixture to blend. Drop dough into prepared baking pan, spacing evenly. Using moistened fingertips, press dough to form even layer over bottom of pan. Pierce dough all over with fork.

Bake cookie base until light golden brown and slightly puffed and edges begin to come away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack and immediately sprinkle bittersweet chocolate over. Let stand until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Using a spatula, spread bittersweet chocolate over top of cookie in thin even layer. Immediately sprinkle chopped peppermint candies over.

Microwave white chocolate in medium bowl for 30 second increments and stir until melted and smooth. Using fork, drizzle white chocolate all over cookies. Chill until white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Using large knife, cut cookie into irregular pieces. EAT.

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As I mentioned in my last post, our traditional Thanksgiving family cookie-palooza (mom, sis, and me baking; dad taste-testing) was downgraded this year to 3 sure-fire recipes and 1 tricky little snot of a recipe which just befuddled us all. I blame Paula Deen.

1 salty sweet snack + 1 cookie + 1 frosted pumpkin bar + 1 oopsie upside-down molten cheesecake = hodgepodge Turkey Day treats (note, none of these are particularly healthy nor particularly terrible for you…if you eat just one).

Chocolate pretzel rings are by far the easiest to make, that is, unless you forget to grease the baking sheets, and then you’ll just fight back tears as your futile efforts to gently scrape the cookie sheet cause each chocolate kiss to effortlessly pop out of the pretzel ring before you can say “@(&$@!” I’m just guessing on this reaction. I wouldn’t know. It’s never happened to me.

Place the pretzels on greased baking sheets; place a chocolate kiss in the center of each ring. Bake at 275 degrees F for 2-3 minutes or until chocolate is softened. Remove from the oven. Place an M&M (any variety works–peanut M&M’s are great) on each, pressing down slightly so chocolate fills the ring. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes or until chocolate is firm. Store at room temperature.

Peanut butter blossoms are arguably one of the best cookies in the world. We make these every year, no matter what.

I made pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting. These were delicious and easy, but I’m not going to share this recipe quite yet because I KNOW I can healthify it a bit. One cup of oil? Meh. Next.

My sister also crafted a beautiful graham cracker pumpkin cheesecake that seemingly took hours to prepare. Alas, as the perfect cheesecake bubbled in the oven and we all got ready to head to my aunt’s house, one of us realized that a cheesecake is, by nature, supposed to chill before being served…at least 8 hours, not 5 minutes. Again, I blame Paula Deen. We took it out of the oven anyway, flipped it over so that the crust faced up, and let it melt and kind of lean sideways a bit. So, basically we just created a new fad dessert: an upside down leaning tower of Pisa molten cheesecake. In the end, it was still good, probably because the thing was 75 percent butter. Hence, not on my blog.

All in all, a successfully low-stress day of random baking. Happy post-Thanksgiving recovery/re-entry into the real world!

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I am absolutely obsessed with the spelt chocolate chip cookies at Yes! Organic market. Spelt flour is similar to wheat but with a slightly nutty flavor. Recently, the cookies seem to have fled from the store before I’m able to grab ’em (maybe everyone else has caught on to the deliciousness) so I made my own. These bite-size cookies disappeared pretty quickly at a gathering last weekend and complemented the candy corn bowl quite well.

Have a lovely, pumpkin-filled weekend.

And on an equally lovely note….

**CONGRATS** to my fellow baker, colleague, and all-around partner in crime, Miss Katy L, on her recent engagement. Our shared love for baked goods has brought us through many a hardship together. Katy is an incredibly talented baker and a frequent (one-time) contributor to this blog, and I eagerly await her next post. Congrats, Katy and Andrew.

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups spelt flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup crushed almonds
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, begin beating the butter, cane sugar, vanilla and egg thoroughly. Add powdered sugar, and mix again. Blend in the flour. Add salt and baking powder, and mix again. When completely mixed, move to the next step.

Add the crushed almonds and chocolate chips. Mix well.

Once the mixture looks complete to you, use a teaspoon to place cookies on sprayed cookie sheets.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes, checking after 10 minutes.

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During my rare weekend visits to NYC, I always make a dramatic point of running to Peanut Butter and Company to pick up a jar (or five) of heavenly natural peanut butter. There is nothing quite like inhaling the wonderful smell of peanut butter sandwiches paired with apples and white chocolate, cooked with bacon and honey, or blended with marshmallows in a milkshake.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that if for some reason I found myself on a desert island in possession of only one food item from the outside world, I would really hope that said item would be a jar of PB&Co peanut butter.

Now that I’ve safely established my potentially life-threatening love of peanut butter, let me say that these cookies have just a hint of peanut butter, which makes them appealing for even non-pb lovers (if they really exist).

I substituted applesauce to decrease the sugar by half and, of course, added whole wheat flour. These cookies are chewy and fluffy and really good.

Peanut buttery banana cookies

2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (very soft or slightly melted in microwave)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup regular flour
1 egg
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 cup applesauce
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, applesauce, and sugar. Add egg and stir. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir. Add flour in increments, stirring after each addition. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop by large spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle sugar on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 11 minutes.

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Happy Friday.

GUEST BLOG POST ALERT! That’s right. Today’s recipe comes from the kitchen of one of my esteemed colleagues, and I am honored to share this space with her baking presence. Please read on for a recipe from Miss Katy L (and a bonus photo of her new puppy at the end).

NB: ok, so this recipe may be more delicious than healthy, but hey, it’s Friday, and the World Cup is on. You all are drinking beers anyway. Might as well eat a stick of butter.

Have a great weekend.

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Submitted by guest baker Katy L.

I learned to bake from my Mom, who, believe it or not, was a home-ec major in college. Yup, for real.  She ended up pursuing other career paths, but her love for butter, chocolate, heavy cream and sugar never ceased.  She taught me that desserts should, at all times, be sweet, rich, and indulgent.  She taught me how to tell the difference between a cookie made with margarine (and how to never eat one), and a proper cookie made with real butter.  She taught me that when it comes to buying chocolate, it’s worth splurging on the good stuff.  My point is that when I make desserts, “low-fat,” “diet,” “skim,” “sugar substitutes,” and “light” go out the window.

So what am I doing here on Megan’s “healthy baking” blog?  Luckily, Megan also thinks you should indulge yourself—once a week anyway.  And I respect that, because that’s what indulgence is really all about, isn’t?  You’re good all week, and then you sink your teeth into something so sweet your teeth hurt, something so rich you can only eat one serving, and you couldn’t possibly appreciate it more.

These aren’t true blondies.  They have chocolate chips in them, so they’re sort of dirty blondies.  The recipe, from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian says you can also throw in butterscotch or peanut butter chips, nuts, fruit, etc.  But I can’t think of any clever names for those, so let’s just go with chocolate chips.

(more…)

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