Cookies

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Dark Chocolate Gingersnaps

cookieswaplogo2013

 

The day has arrived!  The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap has come to a close, and today is the day everyone who participated is sharing their delicious recipes.  

It was so much fun participating in this massive cookie exchange; definitely one to do next year as well.  How it works is this: after signing up, you are assigned 3 random bloggers to send cookies to.  A dozen cookies each, all an original recipe.  In return, 3 different bloggers send you a dozen cookies, so everyone ends up with one dozen of 3 different kinds of cookies.  Too fun, right?

Chocolate Gingersnaps 1

 

I was assigned to make cookies for Brooke from 2 Texas Gals, Crystal from Mrs. Happy Homemaker, and Khandra from Cakes by Khandra.  Let me tell you, trying to decide on one recipe was tough.  I needed to do something that would hold up well to shipping, but I still wanted to do something original and somewhat festive and holiday-like.  I finally decided on gingersnaps, with a little twist: dark chocolate gingersnaps.  I had made something similar years before, but more as a firm, wafer-like gingersnap.  These were soft and chewy, perfectly spiced and that nice rich hit of dark chocolate.  I made an extra dozen to have at the house, which were quickly devoured by both Shawn and myself.  Cookies don’t have a long life in our house.

Chocolate Gingersnaps 2

 

Speaking of which, I can’t forget about the cookies that showed up at my front door!  I don’t know if everyone that participates is this talented, or if I just got real lucky, but we had an absolute sugar feast with our shipments.  Megan from Nutrition Awareness sent maple gingersnaps, with the maple sourced from her family’s farm in Ohio.  Sweet and spicy and simple, perfect little gingersnaps.  Ace from The Toasted Sprinkle sent in “Faux-reos”: chocolate shortbread with white chocolate filling.  I nominate these to take the place of real Oreos, they were seriously that good.  And finally, Nicole from Cooking for Keeps sent us sugar cookies dipped in white chocolate with peppermint candy and pretzels.  I cannot tell you how insanely good these were.  Super soft, buttery cookies, with the sweetness of the white chocolate, the coolness of the peppermint and the salt of the pretzels.  I was deeply disappointed to only get 12; I could have eaten a truckload full of those babies.  So, so good!

Needless to say, in my humble opinion, the Cookie Swap was a great success!  If you are curious about how to participate next year, you can go here for more information.  Happy baking!  THG

Dark Chocolate Gingersnaps
Yields 2
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  3. 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  5. 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  6. 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
  7. 1 tsp. ground allspice
  8. 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  9. 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  10. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  11. 1/2 cup sugar
  12. 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  13. 1/4 cup heavy molasses
  14. 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  15. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  16. 2 eggs, at room temperature
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cream of tartar. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar until thick. Add molasses, fresh grated ginger and sea salt; mix well to combine. Add eggs one at a time to wet ingredients and beat well. Sift dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix to combine. Work together with your hands into a large ball of dough.
  4. Scoop the dough using a 1 1/2 inch cookie scoop. Roll into balls and place on parchment paper lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake in the oven on the center rack for 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Leave on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then move cookies to cooling rack. Serve at room temperature.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Kumquat and Chamomile Shortbreads

Kumquat and Chamomile Shortbreads

Let’s have a tea party!  I’ll bring the cookies!

Chamomile Tea

Shortbreads, really.  I LOVE shortbreads.  Buttery, not too sweet, soft but not really chewy.  So delicious.  These ones though have a little something extra to them.

Kumquat and Chamomile Shortbreads

Kumquat and chamomile tea.  Say it with me now: yum.  Yum, yum, yum.

Tart, bright kumquats.  Fragrant, earthy chamomile.   Thin slices of kumquat on top and just a sprinkle of raw sugar for a little extra sweetness.  These babies disappeared from the table pretty quickly.

Kumquat and Chamomile Shortbreads

These shortbreads pack in a surprising amount of flavor.  Both the citrus and floral flavors really come through and compliment each other really well.  My mom, upon trying them for the first time, said 2 things: one, that they were so flavorful and bright, and two, that she believes I chose my flavor combinations by throwing darts at a board full of ingredients.  I guess it’s kind of a weird combination of flavors, but it works.  Check and mate.

Smile

Kumquat and Chamomile Shortbreads

On a little sidenote, this recipe requires a 1/4 cup of fresh kumquat juice.  This requires actually juicing kumquats.  A lot of kumquats.  An absolutely insane amount of kumquats.  Because each one contains about, oh, 1/2 a teaspoon of juice.  I started feeling like an episode of I Love Lucy; juicing dozens of kumquats to get literally a couple of drops of juice per fruit.  It’s quite comical.

So, your next tea party, make these shortbreads.  Maybe serve with some kumquat curd!  Just be sure to reserve an hour and several hundred kumquats for juicing.  Seriously.  THG

Kumquat and Chamomile Shortbreads

Kumquat and Chamomile Shortbreads

3/4 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. orange extract

1/4 cup fresh kumquat juice

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1/3 cup chamomile tea

10-12 kumquats, sliced thinly widthwise

raw sugar for topping

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add extracts and kumquat juice and mix to combine.  Sift together flour and salt and add to butter mixture.  Mix on low until just combined.  Add chamomile tea and mix until combined.  Dump dough out onto a floured surface and form into a disk.  Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Roll out shortbread dough to 1/4” thickness.  Cut into 3” by 1” strips.  Place onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Lightly press kumquat slices into each shortbread, 2 to 3 per shortbread.  Sprinkle with raw sugar.  Bake in the middle of oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet.

Makes approximately 30 1×3 inch shortbreads

Madeleines with Orange Sugar

Madelines 5 edited

Well, here we are. The first post. It feels like the first day of school, or the first day at a new job. Do I look okay? Will the other kids (or readers) like me? Where’s homeroom?

Okay, maybe not that last one. But there definitely is an excited butterflies in the stomach feeling happening here. So, why not just dive into introductions:

I’m Jillian. I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for some time, but I wanted to make sure it was about something I was truly interested in, something that was just for me. I went through several different ideas of what I wanted this blog to be about: healthy living, theatre, San Francisco, ballet. But I kept coming back to the idea of food. Because I love food. I love making it, I love eating it, I love food. And I love learning more about food. 6 years ago, I’d never had anything besides regular table salt, and now Himalayan Pink Salt is one of my favorite seasonings. I had never made pudding before. Or panna cotta. Or roasted a whole chicken. Or braised ANYTHING. The list goes on and on. I had always been interested in cooking, especially baking, and had even thought about attending the Culinary Academy instead of college. But, I went to college, majored in theatre, and then got a string of non-food related jobs. But my interest kept growing. I started trying more complex and difficult recipes. I made pot de crème for the first time, and cheesecake. I cooked with lamb and quinoa. I made my own ginger pear preserves. Then I started changing up recipes; less of this, more of that, customizing, making them my own while using the existing recipe as a base to jump off of. Then I started creating my own recipes: Peanut butter and Jelly Cheesecake, Sautéed Mushrooms with Haricots Verts, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Fresh Sage, Chocolate Macarons with Whipped Jersey Filling. It was so fun, so addicting, so rewarding watching my family, particularly my husband, chow down on these creations with such glee. I started thinking there was something to this “cooking” thing. Then I started reading all the cooking blogs. The beautiful photography and creative recipes definitely drew me in, but it was the passion, the joy, the absolute delight these bloggers had in what they created that got me hooked. I knew that this was what I wanted to blog about. This is what I would enjoy, what I wouldn’t (hopefully!) burn out on. Because we all need to eat, right? So why not eat well?

Madelines 1 edited

I thought long and hard about what recipe I wanted to start the blog out with. I knew I wanted it to be a dessert, since those are my favorite recipes, but what? Definitely something chocolate, definitely something a little on the simpler side, and recognizable. A twist on a classic. Then I thought about madeleines. These little cakes are my dad’s favorites. We had them as favors at our wedding (with heart-shaped tea caddies and earl grey tea, so cute). And my mom had the pans. Perfect!

The twist (although not a terribly dramatic one) is that they are all chocolate. A traditional madeleine is sort of a sweet, slightly orange flavored cake that is often times dipped halfway in chocolate. But I wanted these to be all chocolate. Rich, velvety, dense, with just a hint of that orange flavor that really brings out the chocolate.

Madelines 2 edited

Please excuse the not-so-great quality of the photos. It is something I am still learning to master.

These babies were consumed fairly quickly. While I was baking them, my sister dropped by and said that she could smell the chocolate walking up to the front door, and got excited because she knew that meant I had been baking. Really, is there anything better than coming home to freshly baked desserty anything? I don’t think so. THG

Madelines 4 edited

***I added the orange sugar into the powdered sugar dusting as well; about a 1:3 ratio. It really brings all the flavors together nicely, especially because the cake itself is a little more of a bittersweet chocolate, so the powdered sugar helps cut the bitterness, if you prefer it on the sweeter side.

MADELEINES WITH ORANGE SUGAR

(adapted from this recipe)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

4 large eggs at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon orange extract

1 cup orange sugar (see recipe below)

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

2-3 tablespoons orange sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Extra butter for buttering madeleine tins

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a medium bowl. Make sure they are well-incorporated. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and orange extract together until smooth and thick. Fold the flour mixture into the eggs until just smooth; add the melted butter.

Butter the madeleine tins and pour in the batter, about 3/4 full in each mold (I like to use a 1/4 cup measuring cup; it’s just the right amount for my size tins). Refrigerate the batter in the tins for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Bake the madeleines until puffed and just firm, about 7-9 minutes. Immediately turn out from the molds onto a cooling rack.

Combine the 2-3 tablespoons of orange sugar with the powdered sugar. Sift over top of the madeleines until just covered.

 

ORANGE SUGAR

2 cups refined sugar

3 tablespoons orange juice, preferably fresh

1/4 teaspoon orange extract

Preheat the oven to 250°F.

In a small saucepan, bring the orange juice to a boil, then simmer until reduced to half the volume, about 10-15 minutes. Mix the reduced orange juice and orange extract into the sugar. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until sugar has dried out, turning over once, about 15-18 minutes. Pulse sugar in a food processor to break up chunks. Store in an airtight container or freeze.