Category Archives: Bars | Cookies | Squares

Coconut Macaroons – Chewy, Not too Sweet, and Quite Addictive!

I almost gave up on making coconut macaroons.  No matter what recipe I tried, they always came out flat, with a bump in the middle.  They never looked like the pictures in food magazines or the Internet.

I came across this recipe a while ago, and was hesitant because I had a ton of flaked coconut in my pantry, but not desiccated coconut.  I had a difficult time finding it at my local grocery store, and had to Google for an alternative right there and then while standing in the baking aisle!  Another name for desiccated coconut is unsweetened coconut.  It comes in fine or medium shreds, and judging from the picture of the finished macaroon, I made a judgement call and bought the medium shreds.

When you are finished making the batter, it will be thick, but you definitely need to use baking cups to hold the macaroon’s shape.

I was so excited to see how nicely rounded they came out!  Of course, I couldn’t wait for the macaroons to cool completely, and neither could H.  I did find it difficult to peel the liner off, but hey, H had no problem whatsoever!  Nevertheless, by the next day when the macaroons had developed their flavor and softened a bit, they were much easier to peel off.

This recipe is definitely a keeper … and they look so cute!

Coconut Macaroons

Adapted from KawalingPinoy.com

Makes 3 ½ -4 dozen minis

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • ⅓ – ½ cup granulated sugar (I used ⅓ cup but if you have a real sweet tooth, use ½ cup)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups unsweetened medium coconut (desiccated coconut)
  1. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat butter and sugar together for a few minutes.  Be sure to scrape down the bowl
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one
  3. Add condensed milk and pure vanilla extract until well combined, again scraping down the side of the bowl
  4. With a spatula, fold in flour, baking powder, and coconut until well mixed
  5. Scoop into mini cupcake liners using a medium size cookie scoop.  If you don’t have one, the equivalent is 1 tablespoon.
  6. Bake for 12-16 minutes (depending on your oven).  When a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, they’re done. Do not over bake.
  7. Let cool for several minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.

Kitchen notes:

  • This is quite annoying, but some condensed milk are manufactured in 300 ml cans.  Most recipes call for 14 ounces.  I buy a lot of baking products in the U.S. so if you can’t find a 14 ounce can, here are two options: divide this recipe in half, or open up a second can (sorry).  Either way, you can use the extra condensed milk for making iced coffee … delicious!
  • If you wish to divide this recipe in half, I would suggest using approximately 3 tbsp butter and 3 or 4 tbsp sugar.  The rest of the ingredients can easily be halved
  • Macaroons will keep in a tight-fitting container at room temperature for a few days

Enjoy!

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Do You Crave Fudgy Brownies or Cake-Like Brownies?

Mmm … a decadent, chocolaty, chewy and moist brownie – are you craving this?

Fudgy Brownies or Cake-Like Brownies

I tested more than 6 recipes before I was ready to share the results! The ingredients are so simple: melted butter, sugar, eggs, pure vanilla extract, cocoa, salt and flour. Surprisingly, I found a basic recipe works best. I’ve tried others that call for melted unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, but I personally found them underwhelming.

I baked batch after batch until I didn’t want to see another brownie again. I tweaked 2 recipes that are now my tried and true favourites!

Most of my friends prefer a fudgy brownie, while in our household, we like a cross between fudgy and cake-like. What we don’t crave are the gooey, wet-like brownies that leave a chocolaty layer on the roof of our mouths 😦

Both recipes are not only easy, but super-fast. You can whip up a batch before your oven heats up! And, you don’t need a stand mixer, just one bowl, a whisk and a wooden spoon!

Bake some today, and don’t forget to let me know which one you prefer.

Fudgy Chocolaty Brownies

Makes 9 squares
Adapted from bonappetit.com

* Fudgy, deep chocolate flavor, chewy but won’t stick to the roof of your mouth!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder (I prefer Dutch-processed)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup unbleached flour
  1. Preheat oven to 325°
  2. Line an 8×8” square pan with:
    Foil, pressing firmly into pan and leaving a 2” overhang. Coat foil with non-stick spray
    OR
    Parchment paper and secure with binder clips. You just need to fold the edges down (I prefer to use parchment paper)
  3. Melt butter in a large microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments, watch carefully. Let cool slightly
  4. Whisk in sugar, cocoa, and salt to combine, and then add vanilla extract
  5. Switch to a wooden spoon and add eggs one at a time, beating vigorously after each addition (the batter will be very thick)
  6. Add flour and stir until just combined (do not overmix). It will be difficult as the mixture will look like one big lump and you’ll need to use some muscle – don’t worry
  7. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top with an offset spatula.  Remove binder clips if using
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Do not over bake
  9. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cool completely in pan
  10. Using foil or parchment overhang, lift brownie out of pan; transfer to a cutting board
  11. Cut into squares.  The original recipe states 16 squares, but you are not going to want tiny squares!!

Fudgy and Cake-Like Brownies

Makes 9 squares
Adapted from allrecipes.com

* Best of both worlds: fudgy and cake-like

Ingredients 

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I prefer Dutch-processed)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup unbleached flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line an 8×8” square pan with:
    Foil, pressing firmly into pan and leaving a 2” overhang. Coat foil with non-stick spray
    OR
    Parchment paper and secure with binder clips. You just need to fold the edges down (I prefer to use parchment paper)
  3. Melt butter in a large microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments, watch carefully. Let cool slightly
  4. Whisk in sugar, cocoa, salt and baking powder to combine, and then add vanilla extract
  5. Add eggs one at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition (the batter will not be as thick as the above recipe)
  6. Add flour and stir until just combined (do not overmix)
  7. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top with an offset spatula.  Remove binder clips if using
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Do not over bake
  9. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cool completely in pan
  10. Using foil or parchment overhang, lift brownie out of pan; transfer to a cutting board
  11. Cut into squares.  The original recipe states 16 squares, but you are not going to want tiny squares!!

Baking tip:

  • For an extra boost of intense chocolate flavor, add ½ -1 tsp espresso powder to the flour step

Kitchen notes:

  • Wrap each square in plastic wrap and place squares in a freezer-safe bag.  Freeze and take out whenever you have a craving
  • For an easy dessert, cut each square into small chunks, serve with vanilla ice cream and chocolate or caramel sauce. Don’t forget the whipped cream!

Christmas Cookies

You can find my favorite holiday cookie recipe on this hyperlink

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Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

I’ve been meaning to make these for quite some time now, especially since H is a chocolate fanatic! Chocolate Crackle cookies are a cross between a brownie and a cookie. They’re moist, slightly chewy and chocolaty with a bit of a crunch on the outside. I love the way they look so much that I didn’t sprinkle icing sugar over the top, but it’s entirely optional!

These cookies call for a lot of chocolate! I personally use bittersweet chocolate in all my treats for that great depth of flavor that’s not too sweet. Use your best chocolate for the ultimate taste!

Bake these decadent cookies and enjoy; they won’t last long!

Bittersweet Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Adapted from mccormick.com
Makes 22 cookies

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper
  3. Melt 8 out of the 12 ounces of chocolate under a double boiler, or carefully microwave in short increments (stir and check, making sure you don’t burn the chocolate). Set aside
  4. In a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside
  5. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with electric or stand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy
  6. Add eggs and pure vanilla extract; mix well
  7. Add the 8 ounces of melted chocolate; beat until well blended
  8. Gradually beat in the flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Stir in remaining 4 ounces of chopped chocolate
  9. Scoop dough using a mini ice cream scooper 1-½ inches apart on prepared baking sheets
  10. Bake approximately 10 minutes or just until cookies are set and slightly cracked on top. Do not over bake (adjust bake time according to the size of your cookies)
  11. Transfer cookies on parchment paper to wire rack. Cool completely before removing from sheets

Optional: sprinkle with icing sugar once cookies have cooled completely

Kitchen notes:

  • I found the dough quickly hardened. I would suggest scooping all the dough at once onto your prepared pans rather than letting the cookie dough sit
  • I over baked the cookies the first time around, but they were still delicious. Watch carefully as cookies will continue to bake after you’ve taken them out of the oven. Do not over bake!

Buttery Sugar Cookies

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I rarely make sugar cookies as they take time, patience and a large workspace, but my cookie cutters were calling out to me.  While it took a whole afternoon to make these, the results were rewarding and the cookies were delicious with a cup of coffee or tea!  I think we ate more than we decorated!  While we prefer ours plain, they do look cute all dressed up.

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Royal icing is the most common choice for cookie decorating, but I didn’t have meringue powder in my pantry.  I chose a simple icing recipe that is very forgiving.  With all icings, if it’s too thin you can add more icing sugar, too thick … add a little more milk or water.  Just remember to add a little at a time.  The icing will dry out quickly, but give it a quick stir and it comes back to life!

Warning: Do not decorate these cookies when you’ve had too much caffeine!  You really need strong and steady hands. After 10 minutes, I gave up and handed (no pun intended) the delightful job over to H!

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Another little tip:  Do not use small cookie cutters.  Not only do the cookies burn faster, but they are a “P-I-T-A” to decorate!  Use large cookie cutters and it will be easier, unless you’re very crafty (like H).

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Happy baking 🙂

Sugar Cookies

Makes approximately 36 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters
Adapated from Joy of Baking

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda
  2. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes)
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined
  4. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough
  5. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about one hour or until firm enough to roll
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
  7. Remove one half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch (1 cm). (Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure the dough does not stick to the counter)
  8. Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to baking sheet
  9. Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking. Note: If you are not going to frost the baked cookies, you can sprinkle the unbaked cookies with sparkling sugar
  10. Bake cookies for about 8-10 minutes (depending on size) or until the edges are just starting to brown
  11. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling
  12. Frost with royal icing, if desired. Be sure to let the royal icing dry completely before storing. (This may take several hours or overnight)

Kitchen Notes

  • Cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. They also freeze well
  • I reduced the sugar slightly by 3 tbsp


Simple Icing for Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp (or more) milk
  • 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp extract (almond if using just vanilla extract in your cookie dough, or match the extracts used above)
  • Food coloring (gel/paste) preferred
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the icing sugar and milk until smooth with a small wire whisk
  2. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy (If icing is too thick, add more milk, one teaspoon at a time)
  3. Stir in food coloring to desired intensity
  4. Paint, spread, or dip cookies with icing, and allow to set completely

 

Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

Butterscotch Pecan Cookies - final

I spent Sunday morning baking cookies for the networking group I attend each week. I decided to try butterscotch chips instead of chocolate.  I used my T&T (tried and true) chocolate chip cookie recipe, and added chopped toasted pecans.  I found the recipe after trying so many that claimed to be “the best.”   I would say this one is a keeper!

You can use any kind of chips: milk chocolate, semi-sweet, bittersweet (our favorite), butterscotch, toffee, white chocolate, or peanut butter ….

Baking is indeed a science, and requires precise measuring of ingredients.  However, I have had great success in reducing the sugar in nearly everything I bake, including this recipe.

H prefers a soft and chewy cookie, whereas I like a slightly crispy cookie.  This recipe delivers both.  It does require a careful watch while baking.

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes approximately 2 dozen
Recipe adapted from Debbie Koenig

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups unbleached flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • ½ cup sugar (I took 2 tbsp out of the measurement)
  • ¾ cup tightly packed light brown sugar (I did not pack the sugar but measured lightly)
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • ¾ to 1 cup of chocolate chips (semi-sweet or dark chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch or toffee bits)
  • ¼ – ½ cup chopped toasted pecans (or your choice of nut)
  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside
  2. Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugars on low speed until smooth and lump free, about 3 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle
  3. Add the vanilla and egg and beat on low speed for 15 seconds, or until fully incorporated.  Do not overbeat. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle
  4. On low speed, add the flour mixture.  Beat until just incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the chocolate chips (or your preferred flavor) and mix just until incorporated
  5. Use a mini to medium sized ice cream scooper to get consistent sized cookies.  Place the scooped cookie dough balls on a large plate or container (you can layer with waxed paper) and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 36 hours
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven
  7. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats
  8. Place cookie dough 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets.  You do not need the cookie dough to come to room temperature
  9. Bake for 11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.  Turn the sheets front to back and switch racks halfway through (baking time may vary according to what size ice cream scooper you used).  Cookies are done when light brown in color
  10. Remove the sheets from the oven to cool.  Wait until cookies are cool enough to handle and transfer to a cooling rack

Kitchen notes:

  • Oven temperatures vary, so adjust your bake time accordingly
  • Don’t over mix the dough
  • The recipe works well even refrigerated for 30 minutes
  • I used a mini ice-cream scooper
  • Leave a lot of room as the cookies will spread out.  They will flatten on their own while baking
  • Invest in an oven thermometer if you don’t have one.  It should be at 350°F
  • Do not over bake.  The cookies will look under done, but they will continue to bake on the sheet
  • Let cool completely and store in a tight-fitting container.  Enjoy within 3-4 days
  • H takes it to another level by scooping slightly soft vanilla ice cream between 2 warm cookies
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