So I Married a Chef

Adventures in Baking Balanced with Exercise and Healthy Meals

Christmas Cookies!!! December 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 5:22 pm

Merry Christmas 🙂 I look forward to making Christmas cookies all year. I think about them for weeks ahead of time, planning just the right mix. I haven’t posted anything in a few weeks – honestly because I haven’t made anything post-worthy. My dinners have been boring and quickly thrown together, and I haven’t baked a thing. But this week was a different story.

My Christmas “baking” began on Tuesday night with Oreo Bark from How Sweet it Is. I was impatient and my bark ended up a little marbled, but ridiculously delicious none the less. On Thursday morning I made 3 batches of dough, and baked them off in the afternoon. This year I went with Chocolate Mint Cookies (modified from Amy’s Bread), Ginger Molasses Cookies (which I have FINALLY perfected the recipe for), and Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies (still needs some work on the type/amount of bacon, but the dough is perfect).

LOTS of dough!  I always chill my dough wrapped in plastic wrap for several hours before baking.

Chocolate Mint Cookies….

Ginger Molasses…

Peanut Butter Bacon… Check out the delicious bacon pieces in there!

All of the goods! (well, just one tin of each 😉 )

Recipes anyone??? Here goes…

Chocolate Mint Cookies (adapted and modified from The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread)

1 5/8 cups all-purpose flour
3/8 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 bag (10 oz) andes mint pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave (50% power for 3 min). Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl frequently. Pour in melted chocolate and continue mixing until the batter is uniform in color. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add in the extracts and mix again until just combined.
5. Add the dry ingredients in stages, mixing until just combined with each addition. Stir in the andes pieces on low speed or by hand. Chill dough for several hours.
6. Weigh dough into 2 oz balls (or divide into 23 even cookies). Press down lightly on the top, don’t flatten. Place dough on prepared cookie sheet with several inches between the cookies (I fit about 8 per sheet). Bake for 16-18 minutes. Cool on sheet for 8 minutes and transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 23 cookies.

 

Ginger Molasses Cookies (adapted from several unremember recipes, but changed to make it my own after several tries)

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla
extra sugar for tops of cookies

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Mix in the molasses and vanilla until the dough is uniform. Add the dry mixture in stages mixing until just combined with each addition. Chill dough for several hours.
4. Weigh dough into 3 oz balls (or about 16 even cookies). Gently press the top down (don’t flatten), and dip the top of the cookie into sugar. Place on baking sheet with LOTS of room for spreading ( I did about 5-6 per sheet). Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 16 cookies

 

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies (my own created and tweaked peanut butter cookie recipe)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1 egg
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp maple extract
8 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
3. Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the peanut butter until combined. Add the egg and mix well. Add the extract and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until the dough just comes together. Either by hand or low speed, mix in the bacon. Chill dough several hours.
4. Weigh dough into 2 oz. balls (about 15 cookies). Press down into a semi-flat oval, but not completely flattened. Bake on prepared cookie sheet for about 16 minutes. Cool on sheet for 8 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 15 cookies.

 

Have you ever baked with bacon?

What was your favorite cookie this holiday season?

 

Amazing Brownies for a Blogger Cookie Swap December 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 4:30 pm

If I haven’t said this before, my two favorite baked goods of all time are brownies and cheesecake. These are pretty much the most dangerous foods for me, and therefore don’t make it into my house very often except on special occasions. When they do show up, they don’t last long that’s for sure. Last month I was sent an invite for a Cleveland blogger cookie swap hosted by Alicia of Poise in Parma. Naturally, with my love of baking, I wanted to go all out and come up with something festive, delicious, and sinful. I researched recipes for a while. Finally I decided that a cheesecake brownie was the way to go. But… to make it festive I went with a Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie.

Two Christmas’ ago I made an amazing Peppermint Chip Cheesecake from Mary Crownover’s I Heart Cheesecake book. It was smooth, creamy, rich, and loaded with peppermint flavor. So, for my brownies I basically cut her recipe in half with one small change. For the brownies, I doubled David Lebovitz’s recipe in order to make a 9×13. Finally, I borrowed Angela of Oh She Glows idea to sprinkle crushed candy canes on top for extra flavor and color. I actually had never made cheesecake brownies before, so I was a little nervous for how it would turn out. Let me say… this could possibly be the most dangerous holiday treat of the year. In other words… make it ASAP but be sure to share the wealth before you devour the entire pan on your own 😉

Whenever I work with cream cheese, I like to beat it alone to smooth it out. If cream cheese isn’t softened enough, you can just beat it to death until it becomes smooth.

Then, add in sugar and cream the two together.

Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well with each addition and scrape the bowl.

Add in cornstarch and sour cream. I love the addition of sour cream to a cheesecake. It’s tartness really balances out the sugar. Mix until well combined.

Next is a combination of peppermint extract (don’t use “mint”), peppermint schnapps, and vanilla extract. Beat until well combined and then set the mixture aside while you make the brownie.

Onto the brownies… start by melting some bittersweet chocolate and butter over a double boiler.

Once melted, add to the sugar and whisk together.

Whisk in your eggs until smooth.

Then add in the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk until just combined.

Gently stir in the vanilla.

Fold in the chocolate chips. If you are considering omitting the chips, DON’T!  They really provide a nice texture to the finished brownie 🙂

Now, spread about 2/3 of the brownie mixture into a 9×13 pan buttered, lined with parchment, and buttered again.

Then, spread the cheesecake filling evenly over the brownie base.

Then, drop spoonfuls of the remaining brownie batter over the top.

Then, use a knife to gently swirl, not mix, the brownie and cheesecake batters.

Go ahead, lick the knife. It will only make the anticipation of the finished brownies that much worse, but 100% worth the tease.

Finally, sprinkle the crushed candy cane over the top.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set and the edges pull away from the pan.

Let the brownies cool to room temperature, run a knife around the edges, resist every temptation to cut in (I promise they are better chilled), and chill for several hours or overnight. Then, cut, eat, share, hoard, whatever your choose.

Here is what I brought to the cookie exchange: Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies and Caribbean Crunch Blondies

Gluten-Free Orange Walnut Biscotti

Here is the lovely spread provided by just 4 bloggers that could attend.

And the bloggers – ignore the fact that I came straight from work.

L to R: Katie of Healthy Heddleston , Alicia of Poise in Parma, Kali of Finishing Firsts, and ME! This was my first time meeting Katie and Kali. We all had such a great time chatting and I can’t wait for our next meet up!

Recipe…

Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies

Cheesecake:
16 oz. cream cheese, softened (use full fat, it works best)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup sour cream (low fat works fine)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. peppermint extract
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp. peppermint schnapps

Brownie:
12 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
8 candy canes, crushed

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9×13 pan, line with parchment, butter parchment.
2. For the cheesecake: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add then sugar and cream together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the cornstarch and sour cream and mix until combined. Add in the extracts and schnapps and mix until combined. Set aside.
3. For the brownie: In a double boiler, melt together the butter and bittersweet chocolate. When melted, transfer to a large bowl and whisk in sugar. Whisk in the eggs until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa, and salt and whisk until just combined. Slowly whisk in the vanilla extract so as not to over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.
4. To assemble: spread 2/3 of the brownie batter in the prepared pan. Spread the cheesecake evenly over the brownie batter. Spoon the remaining brownie batter over the top, it won’t cover the entire thing. Use a knife to gently swirl together the batters, don’t mix. Sprinkle the top with the crushed candy canes. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the cheesecake is set and barely pulls away from the edges of the pan, and a toothpick inserted comes out almost clean (a few crumbs attached is good). Cool completely in the pan. Chill several hours or overnight before slicing. Makes about 24 brownies (edges cut off) or 28 (edges left on).

What is your favorite holiday treat? Cookies, cakes, cheesecake, and bars included!

Do you hit the gym more over the holiday season to make up for eating a bunch of treats?