Flourless double chocolate cookies

I came up with this recipe for a friend who is intolerant to gluten.  My husband and I were hosting some friends for a bbq and I decided that ice cream sandwiches were the perfect easy to eat summer dessert.  I made a double batch of my chewy cookies, half chocolate chip and half cinnamon sugar (blogged in my earlier post “The BEST chocolate chip cookies”) and wanted to make something my friend could eat as well.  I searched the internet for flourless cookie recipes and found that most either showcase peanut butter (to which my brother, who was attending, is highly allergic) or an incredible amount of sugar.  It was almost as though the chocolate cookie recipes I found simply substituted the quantity of flour that would normally be used with icing sugar.  Given that these cookies are flourless they need something to bind together the batter; adding more sugar is simply not the answer.  Several recipes mentioned the addition of cornstarch which reminded me of my Pesach macaroons (to which I add potato starch).  Adding the starch helps these cookies to stay together and creates a beautiful cracked top similar to that found on a good brownie.  This recipe could be easily adapted for Pesach by substituting potato starch for corn starch and ensuring the rest of your ingredients are Pareve.

2 1/2 cups icing sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 egg whites
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Mixing bowl or Kitchen Aid mixer
Cookie scoop
Baking sheet
Silpat or parchment paper

First, preheat your oven to 350 F then sift together your dry ingredients until well blended.  Press through any clumps to ensure even blending: this cookie is all about texture.

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Add your egg whites, egg and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined.  The mixture will be very gooey, don’t worry.

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Finally, fold in your chocolate chips by hand.

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Drop by the tablespoon onto parchment or Silpat baking sheets.  Leave several inches between each cookie to allow for spreading.  Bake for 15-18 minutes until the tops crack and appear dull.  This batter is extremely sticky and will adhere even with a Silpat so gently remove them from your baking sheet as soon as they come out of the oven and transfer immediately to a wire rack.

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Enjoy with a large glass of milk!

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Moist and chewy macaroons, two ways

You may have seen coconut macaroons in the grocery store: they are the round coconut cookies often dipped in milk chocolate, and served around Easter and Pesach.  They tend to be hard, dry, and have only a hint of coconut flavour; my cookies are nothing like those.  These cookies, my mother’s recipe, are pillows of soft coconut with honey or cocoa powder folded in for extra flavour.  They are a little sweet, and have just enough chew to have an interesting texture.  Make sure not to purchase sweetened coconut, or these will be overly sweet and not as tasty.  These cookies are a staple in my Pesach baking but could certainly be made for any coconut lover year round!

3 egg whites, room temperature (this will help the eggs whip up fluffier)
Salt
3/4 c sugar
1 1/2 tbsp honey
2 1/2 c coarse unsweetened coconut
3 tbsp potato starch
Baking pan
Stand mixer

Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.

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Gradually beat the sugar and honey into your egg whites until stiff shiny peaks form.

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Gently fold in your coconut and potato starch until completely combined.

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Drop by the tablespoon onto lined baking sheets.  The Silpat mat works wonderfully but if you don’t have one, simply dust your parchment paper with potato starch.  Ideally, use a cookie scoop because this dough can be incredibly sticky and hard to deal with.

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1 c sugar
1/3 c cocoa
3 egg whites
Salt
2 cups unsweetened coarse coconut
1 tsp vanilla
Baking pan
Stand mixer

Stir the sugar with the cocoa until smooth and set aside.  Next, beat your egg whites and salt as above.  On a low speed, gradually fold in sugar and cocoa mix 1 tablespoon at a time.

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Finally, gently fold in your coconut and finally the vanilla extract.  Drop by the tablespoon onto lined baking sheets and bake at 325 F for 15-18 minutes or until firm (the regular macaroons will also be lightly browned).

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Enjoy!

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Chocolate cream cheese hamentashen

Hamentashen are a traditional Jewish cookie served at Purim.  Wikipedia does a decent job of summarizing the Purim story if you’d like the background of the holiday, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purim.  The (extremely) short version is that Hamen is a bad, bad man.  During Purim, small children dress up and twirl groggers (noisemakers) and boo when his name is mentioned during the telling of the story in synagogue.  Hamentashen, a Yiddish word that translates into “Hamen’s pockets”, are filled cookies.  Growing up, hamentashen were always quite bland and boring.  Usually filled with chocolate chips or fruit, I was always less than thrilled when this holiday treat was brought out.  When trying to make these for my family I decided I would make them better, more flavourful, and fun to eat.  I adapted my mother’s original cookie recipe and went on the hunt for better filling ideas.  I decided on a chocolate cream cheese filling: a little tart and very rich.  Jewish or not, I think everyone will enjoy these delicious, fun shaped cookies.

¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
⅔ cup white sugar
1 egg, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 ¼ cups flour
¼ tsp salt

Slice your butter into small chunks and place in a large bowl.  Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Next, add the egg, vanilla and almond and mix until creamy.  Finally, sift your flour and salt into the bowl and mix until a soft, crumbly dough forms.

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Switch implements and knead with dough hook until a smooth dough forms but make sure not to not over knead.

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Wrap your in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.  While your dough is resting you can prepare your filling.

3/4 cup brown sugar
3 ounces cream cheese (about 1/3 of a package), room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Whip your cream cheese until smooth then add your brown sugar and vanilla and mix until blended.  Fold in your chocolate chips by hand and chill until ready to use.

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Pre heat your oven to 350 F.  Roll out your dough on a floured surface.  You want it to be thin otherwise it will open during baking.  Fold over the left side.

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Next, fold the left corner over right corner over to make a point.

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Finally, fold up the bottom piece and tuck the left corner under, leaving right corner over; making a pin wheel.

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Pinch corners to seal.  Bake hamentashen for 15 minutes until edges are slightly browned.

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Let cool and enjoy!

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Candied almond and fig biscotti

After making my first batch of biscotti a while ago I realized how versatile these cookies can be.  They are simple to make and allow for infinite variations once you’ve mastered their technique!  They last for several weeks in an airtight container and are the perfect cookie to keep in the house for when you want a little something sweet with your evening tea or coffee.  I wanted to make a fruit and nut version for my second attempt and decided on dried figs and almond.  Nothing is more Italian than fig filled desserts and I thought that candying the almonds with honey would be the perfect compliment to these delicious dried fruit.  Because they contain chewy dried figs, this biscotti dough is more sticky than my previous recipe: if you want them equally crunchy as my pecan chocolate biscotti, you may wish to bake them an extra 5 minutes on each side.

1 cup of raw blanched almonds (blanched just means your almond skins should be removed: you can find these at most grocery stores)
1 cup of chopped dried figs
1 1/2 tsp oil
1 1/2 tsp honey
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups flour
Baking sheet
Small pot

Roast your almonds at 350 F for 6-8 minutes, make sure not to let them burn.  After they are toasted, roughly chop and set aside.

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Heat your oil and honey at medium low heat in a small pot then add the almond chunks.  Mix until the nuts have absorbed all the liquid then turn off the heat.

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Chop your figs and set aside; I roughly chopped each fig into 4-6 pieces.

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Mix your sugar and eggs until thickened, then add your almond extract.  Sift your baking powder, salt and flour then add to the egg mixture until combined.  Fold in your candied almonds and chopped figs.  Your dough will be quite sticky from the figs, this will make it easier to form it into a log for baking.

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Line your baking sheet with parchment and bake your biscotti log for 20 minutes.  Remove the log from the oven and slice your biscotti immediately then place them cut side down on the pan and bake for 10 more minutes on each side.

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Remove and place on rack until cool, then transfer to an airtight container immediately.

These biscotti are quite delicious with tea as well as coffee.

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The BEST chewy chocolate chip cookies

I am very picky about cookies: they need to have the right amount of chew, while still maintaining a delectable crispy edge to be perfect.  These cookies are chewy and rich, without being too heavy.  They are my husband’s favourite; I always bake a large batch and freeze them so he can take a fresh cookie to work each day.  The batter is fantastic and would work beautifully with nuts, fruit or white chocolate chips as well (I’ve tried making them rolled in slivered almonds and cocoa powder).   I normally make these cookies in one of two ways: chocolate chip or cinnamon sugar.  The cinnamon sugar cookies are the favourite of several of my best friends.  To change this recipe to amazing cinnamon sugar cookies, simply omit the chocolate chips and roll each scoop of dough in a 2:1 ratio of granulated sugar to cinnamon: bake for the same amount of time (they will flatten more than those with chocolate chips, but otherwise bake the same).

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (this recipe already has a lot of sugar so do not use milk chocolate chips!)
Baking pan

Preheat your oven to 325 F. Sift together your flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth and well blended.

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Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy then mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Your batter will become quite thick but don’t worry, it makes them beautifully chewy in the oven!

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Next, toss your chocolate chips in a tablespoon of flour.  This trick will prevent the chips from sinking to the bottom of your cookies in the oven.  Stir in the chocolate chips into your batter by hand or using the dough hook attachment on your Kitchenaid mixer (the batter will be too thick to use a paddle at this point).

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Scoop your cookies with a cookie scoop, leaving a few inches between them on the pan. Bake them for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Leave them on the pan for a few minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

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Enjoy with a large glass of milk 🙂

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Rugelach, two ways

My husband and I were recently invited to a Thanksgivukkah dinner.  For those who don’t know, Wikipedia defines the holiday as “a portmanteau neologism given to the convergence of the American holiday of Thanksgiving and the first day of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah on Thursday, November 28, 2013.  It was the result of a rare coincidence between the lunisolar Hebrew calendar..and the Gregorian calendar”.  Given that this epic holiday would never occur again in our lifetime, our good friend who happens to be both American and Jewish invited us to a fabulous meal.  Despite the fact that she prepared an amazing meal from scratch I still felt a compulsion to bring dessert (I’ve mentioned this urge in previous posts as well).  Rugelach is a traditional Channukah treat, a rich butter and cream cheese dough rolled with a filling of choice.  Several blogs suggested the twist of pecan pie rugelach for Thanksgivukkah and I changed those basic recipes to suit my taste.  Unfortunately despite thorough planning on my part, I only had enough maple syrup to make half the necessary filling.  My solution: make half chocolate pecan rugelach and half chocolate cinnamon rugelach, resulting in two delicious dessert options for the diners to choose from.

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, softened but still cool
½ cup cream cheese, softened but still cool

Combine your flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl then scatter chunks of butter and cream cheese over the flour mixture.  Beat until the dough is mixed but still crumbly.

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Divide the dough into two equal sized pieces, wrap in cellophane, and flatten.  Chill your dough for two hours to overnight.

2 cups pecan halves
¼ cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup packed brown sugar
3 ounces semi sweet chocolate (I like Bakers for high quality melting chocolate)
Baking tray
Small sauce pan

Toast your pecans at 350 F for 8 minutes then chop and set aside in a mixing bowl.  Brown your butter over medium heat while continuously stirring.  Be careful not to burn your butter: as soon as the foam subsides and it is a light brown colour, remove it from the heat.

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Add all ingredients except for the chocolate to the toasted nuts.  Finely chop your chocolate and add it to your pecan mixture.

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Roll your dough out on a lightly floured surface.  Try and make your dough as symmetrical as possible as this will help with shaping your cookies.  You want your dough approximately one cm thick; if it is too thin it will tear when rolling, too thick and your cookies will burn before baking through.  Once your dough is rolled, evenly spread your pecan mixture.

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Slice your dough into wedges and roll from the wide end inwards, like a crescent roll.

1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup semi sweet chocolate
3 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
Egg
Tbsp water
Pastry brush
Cup

Finely chop your chocolate.

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Mix the sugars and cinnamon together then follow the instructions above to roll out your dough.  Brush the melted butter onto your dough and spread your sugar mixture evenly.  Sprinkle your chopped chocolate and press it lightly into the dough.

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Follow the steps above to cut your rugelach.  Next, place your rugelach on a lined baking sheet.  Mix the egg and water and brush it onto your rugelach.  Bake them at 350 F for 20 minutes, until golden.

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Enjoy!

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Chewy oatmeal cookies with candied pecans and chocolate

I recently decided to try and make one of my favourite kind of cookies: oatmeal chocolate chip.  The weather has been getting colder and we recently had our first real snowfall of the season.  Something about an oatmeal cookie is so satisfying and hearty and feels less indulgent than a regular chocolate chip cookie (if you ignore the calories).  I scoured cookbooks and the internet for recipes but didn’t find anything that sounded tasty so I made up my own!  I have a recent obsession with pecans and desire to put them in absolutely everything, so I candied them (like in my earlier biscotti post) and added them to the cookies.  If you don’t share my nut obsession, simply omit them and double the number of chocolate chips in the recipe.  I brought these to a recent games night with friends and they were a definite hit.  Simple to make and delicious, what more could you ask for in a cookie?

1 cup softened butter (unless specified, I always mean unsalted)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 rounded cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup of chocolate chips
3/4 tsp maple syrup
3/4 tsp oil
1/2 cup of pecans, candied with maple syrup and chopped

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Roast your pecans for 6-8 minutes, make sure not to let them burn.  After your pecans are toasted, roughly chop them and set aside.  Heat your oil and maple syrup at medium low heat in a small pot then add the pecan chunks.  Mix until the pecans have absorbed the liquid then turn off the heat and set aside.

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In a large bowl, mix the softened butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy.  Next, add your eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.

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Sift your flour, baking soda and salt then add it to your liquids.  Next, slowly add the rolled oats, candied pecans and chocolate chips and stir until well blended.  The mixture will be very thick so be careful not to overwork your Kitchenaid!

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Drop by the tablespoon onto a lined cookie sheet.  These cookies don’t spread too much so a few inches in between each should be sufficient.

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Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are slightly browned but the center is still light, this will ensure a chewy cookie.  After the cookies are firm enough, transfer them to a wire rack to cool.  Place them in a airtight container as soon as they reach room temperature.

Yum!

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