Recreating Sand Tarts

I can remember getting Charles Chips delivered when I was a kid. While the taste of the potato chips  have faded from memory, I still think on the Sand Tarts we would also order from them sometimes. Those cookies weren’t entirely a sugar cookie and weren’t shortbread either. Light, crisp and with a hint of cinnamon, they were a delicious after school snack. Today, you can buy a 1lb tin for $19.99 but I’m not going to spend that much for cookies, so I needed to recreate this recipe for myself.

After searching the web and talking to my Mom, I decided to use a melange of several recipes. Using both shortening and butter makes the cookies crisp but not too fragile. Having both granulated sugar and brown sugar adds a depth to the flavor. You can also put in some finely chopped, toasted pecans if you want a good cookie that is (to paraphrase Douglas Adams) almost, but not quite, entirely unlike sand tarts.

Sand Tarts

1/2 cup shortening
½ cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2  cup toasted pecans, chopped fine (optional)
Cinnamon Sugar (Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon) to sprinkle on top of cookies

Cream shortening and butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix just until medium-soft dough is formed. Do not over-mix. Chill for several hours (or as long as overnight) in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350.

Roll out on floured surface as the sand tarts need to be thin to crisp up. Cut with cookie cutters into the shape of your choice. Brush tops with egg white, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Place 1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes. Let cool on the pan for one minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I woke up this morning dreaming about stirring melted chocolate. It was very vivid and while that is better than waking up having the refrain from “Momma Tried” running through your head, it is still something that stays with you for a while after you get up.

I decided to go where my subconscious led me and made these chocolate, chocolate chip cookies. Basically, you melt 4 tablespoons of the butter with 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate. More chocolate is more better! They are crisp on the edges and chewy in the center – yummy!

My metal beastie stands guard over the cookies.

Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (two sticks), divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup toasted, chopped nuts, optional
flake salt for sprinkling, optional

Melt 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate with 4 tablespoons of the butter in a double boiler. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.

Beat remaining butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour in melted chocolate. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts, if using.

Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour to give the flour proteins and starches a chance to rest. While Jacques Torres would have you rest the dough 24 to 72 hours, I’m not wired to be able resist that kind of temptation. An hour is my max and it is still an effort to not to sneak out all the cookie dough during that time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove dough from the refrigerator and drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle lightly with flake salt, if desired.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until they are slightly firm in the center. Remove from the oven and cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

I turned on the television to watch English Premier League soccer on the Spanish language channel, Telemundo. First thing that comes up is a commercial for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I’m not strong enough to resist temptation in two languages so I headed to the kitchen to make something with chocolate and peanut butter.

I went with a recipe from Maida Heatter. She’s an awesome baker and I go back to her cookie books regularly. In this cookie bar recipe, she added jelly – while it is a cool concept (peanut butter and jelly), I found it distracting so eliminated it. I also nixed the additional peanuts, as the chunky peanut butter gives it plenty of peanutty flavor and crunch. I like the deeper chocolateness of semi-sweet morsels and switched them for the milk chocolate chips in the original recipe.

These are sort of like blondies but more cake-like and with a delicious peanut butter flavor and plenty of chocolate chips.

img_20161211_133117

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Brand New Book of Great Cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chunky peanut butter
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9X13 baking pan.

Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, add the butter and vanilla. Beat until creamed. Add the peanut butter and beat until smooth. Beat in the brown sugar. Add the eggs one at a time. Reduce speed to low and mix in the sifted dry ingredients. Stir in the morsels.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top.

Bake for 35 minutes, rotating the pan in the middle of cooking. Insert a toothpick in the middle to check for doneness. It should come out clean.

Remove from oven and let stand on a rack until cool. Chill until firm and then cut into bars.

 

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Before watching the 2016 election returns last night, I made a huge a$$ chocolate-chip cookie. Believe me, after all the campaigning and then watching the nail biting return reporting, I needed a treat with loads of gooey chocolate.

I browned the butter before creaming it with the sugars. It gives the cookie a nutty taste without actually adding nuts and keeps the cookie chewy (as per America’s Test Kitchen).

choc-chip-cookies

 

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a 10 inch cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat stirring often, until it starts to bubble and is completely melted and foaming subsides. Continue to cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan until the milk solids are a golden brown and the butter has a nutty aroma.
Pour the melted butter into the bowl of your stand mixer and mix together the butter and sugars. Do not wipe out skillet.
Chill bowl for 10 minutes. While it cools,  combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
Once the batter is cool enough not to scramble the eggs, remove from the refrigerator and add the eggs one at a time until combined. Add in the vanilla. Stir in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into the skillet in which you browned the butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden brown. The inside should still be slightly gooey.
Top with vanilla ice cream and try not to eat the entire thing in one sitting!

 

Hazelnut Thumbprints

I turned on the television this morning expecting to tune into to a classic old Louisiana cooking show. Instead, I was treated to a woman making peanut butter chocolate mousse with tofu.

To get the horror out of my brain, I decided to use my new hazelnut flour and make cookies. Thumbprint cookies usually have jam – and you could still use some here. I think strawberry or blackberry would go really well. However, I’m not about to turn down an opportunity to use chocolate. I had planned to use Nutella but I was out so I sort of made my own spread with bittersweet chocolate and cookie butter.

The final result was nutty and chocolately and definitely what the doctor ordered to clear my thoughts of tofu surprise.

cookies

Hazelnut Thumbprints

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups hazelnut flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilia
1/2 teaspoon salt

¼ cup cookie butter
1 cup bittersweet morsels

Preheat oven to 350°. Separate eggs, reserving the whites.

In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until combined. Stir in egg yolks. Add hazelnut flour, cinnamon, vanilla and salt and stir to combine.

Scoop tablespoons of dough. Roll the dough into balls and brush the balls with the eggs whites. Place about two inches apart onto baking sheets.

Make indentations in the center of each ball with a small measuring spoon. Cook for ten minutes.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate and cookie butter together. After 10 minutes of baking the cookies, add a ½ teaspoon of the chocolate mixture to each indentation. You may need to remake the divots first.

If you’d rather do fruity thumbprints, slightly warm 1/4 cup of your preferred jam in the microwave, just enough to loosen it up a little. As above, after ten minutes of baking the cookies, spoon jam into indentions.

Bake until cookies are set and golden around the edges, an additional 5 to 8 minutes more, rotating sheets when putting them back in the oven. Let cool on baking sheets on a wire rack for 5 minutes then transfer cookies to the rack to cool completely.

Oh, and these are gluten free, too!

Cookie Brittle

I was browsing around the interwebs the other day and came across a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle. Brilliant – brittle plus chocolate chip cookie! Quite yummy!

I switched out bittersweet chocolate morsels for semi-sweet to cut the sweetness a little and intensify the chocolate. I also put in more morsels because it didn’t look chocolately enough with just the one package.

cookie brittle

Cookie Brittle

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
2 cups (16 oz.) bitter-sweet chocolate chips (a package and a half)

Preheat the oven to 375 and line a 10×15 inch baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cream the butter, vanilla, salt and granulated sugar together until it is well-mixed and fluffy. Add the flour and beat until well-incorporated. Toss in the chocolate chips and mix completely.

Press the cookie dough into an even layer in the prepared baking sheet. Bake the cookie brittle for 25 minutes, or until it turns a nice golden brown color across the top (the edges may be a bit darker).

Allow the brittle to cool completely before breaking it into large chunks.

Bittersweet Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Early this morning, more than 100 people were killed or injured at an Orlando, Florida gay hotspot simply for who they loved. The mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub is another in a long string of attacks against the LGBTQ community – in fact, there have been more than 10 transgender people murdered in the United States in the first five months of 2016 alone.

As President Obama said:

This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends — our fellow Americans — who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live. The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub — it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.

So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American — regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation — is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country. And no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.

I cannot fathom such hate any more than I understand the fear mongering and ugly lies spread by those who seek special legal protection for discrimination based on religious belief. Not understanding, I have turned to baking and hope that bittersweet chocolate can give me some solace, even if it can’t fill the hole in my heart.

This started as a recipe from the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company that I’ve added Creme de Cacao and pecans.

IMG_2114

Bittersweet Chocolate Truffle Cookies

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups Ghirardelli Bittersweet Baking Chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Creme de Cacao (or vanilla extract)
1/3 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Baking Chips, for mixing into the prepared cookie dough
1/3 cup toasted pecan pieces
2 -3 tablespoons flake sea salt

In  a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter until smooth. Remove from heat. Combine flour, baking powder and salt and mix to combine. In another bowl, mix together sugar and eggs, combine thoroughly and slowly add the cooled chocolate mixture. Stir to combine. Add Creme de Cacao or vanilla extract and mix. Stir in flour mixture. Cool for a few minutes (if batter is warm, chocolate chips will melt). Stir in chocolate chips and pecan pieces. Chill for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop rounded tablespoons of batter and place on baking tray. Top each cookie lightly with a pinch of sea salt. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 7-8 minutes until the outside looks slightly cracked. Do not over bake cookies as they will continue to cook once removed from the oven. Cookies should be soft and gooey in the center.

Equality Florida has set up a GoFundMe page taking donations to help the Pulse shooting victims. In addition, I ask for you to please stand with the LGBTQ community and not against us. We are not the demons the religious extremists have tried to make us out to be. We are your brothers and your sisters and we, too, want to live our lives without fear.