Monday, March 29, 2010

Favorite Cookie [061-070]


Wooof, this has definitely been the most stretched out round of cookie posts yet! I started this seventh round of posts way back in January and I'm only now getting to the "Favorite Cookie" post, and it's almost April. That's no good. I've been lazy. I've failed at whatever New Years resolution I made regarding this blog. Whatever, who cares, at least I'm still baking a lot, even if I don't update in a timely manner. All cookies will be revealed in due time!

Anyway, here we are at the end of the seventh round of cookies, and ready to forge ahead into the eighth round. That's pretty cool! That means I'm about 40% done with this journey. I think that means I'm ahead of schedule, since I just passed my 1 year anniversary. Right on! I hope my math's right, or else I'm screwed.

Okay, enough meaningless banter. The favorite cookie? Duh...


1st place (Blue Ribbon!): Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies
Well I don't know what to say that I didn't already say in my glowing review of these cookies. Just click the link and read about them. Or if you're too lazy, here's the short version: These are insanely delicious and you need to make them. Done and done.


2nd place (Honorable Mention!): Chocolate-Black Pepper Cookies
Sure, these aren't very fancy looking or complex to make, but despite their simplicity, they have a pretty complex flavor. The espresso and cinnamon work really nicely with the chocolate giving it a deeper flavor, and then the addition of black pepper on top is really amazing. Surprisingly good, and super easy to make.


These will definitely wow your friends and enemies alike, but they do take time and effort to make. They taste good, but I'm not sure that their taste is really worth the effort in the long run. But if you're looking for a more in depth recipe for a party or something, these would be a really good choice.


Simply really nice cookies. Perfect for people who are silly and don't understand why dark chocolate is far superior to milk chocolate. That being said, you could also substitute dark chocolate chunks into the dough and make a cookie with a little more punch. But either way, these are just really good cookies that will make you happy. Happy cookies.


This recipe is different than your usual Peanut Butter cookie being that it makes a buttery, shortbready cookie instead of a chewy, soft cookie like you'd expect. They are very peanutty, so if that's not your thing, don't make them. But, if you love peanuts, these are your cookie. Dip them in chocolate and you are my new best friend.


These guys are nice, and they would look great at a tea party or some other equally frilly event, but they aren't very special in flavor. They taste nice, and you can really change them around by using different types of jam or curds, as well as different kinds of nuts. However, the actual dough of the cookie is rather lacking in flavor and is kinda boring.


7th place: Chocolate Charms
As I wrote in this cookie's post, these Chocolate Charms really benefit from the use of high quality cocoa powder. They have one flavor: chocolate--so don't cut any corners, or else the cookie will be lacking. I did just that and chose to use some lame-o Hershey's cocoa powder and I regretted it. On the brighter side, they taste like crunchy hot chocolate (a good thing? yes!).


8th place: Mocha Shortbread
I already forgot about these, even though I made them practically less than a week ago. They need way more espresso powder to earn the name "Mocha." But they would be great with a dollop of fancy vanilla bean ice cream or some other gourmet topping. An easy, boring recipe, but it has the potential to go places.


I would have given these guys last place if I was judging them solely on their end result, but the batter for these blondies was so supremely tasty that I just can't. It was all my fault, I think, that these guys didn't work out--so obviously they don't deserve such a low ranking, but what can I do? I suggest you make these, but keep an eye on them as they bake!


10th place (Brown Ribbon!): Hazelnut Cookies
These did not work, and this time I don't think it was my fault. I've made meringues before out of The Book, and they worked amazingly, but these failed. I think it was the order in which Martha has you mix in the sugar--it turned the meringue into marshmallow paste. End result was awful, hard, chewy, strange. Boo.


Ta-da! Done! Great, now we can move on to bigger and better things, right? Right! And by the way, Happy Passover everyone! I'm going to make the Chocolate Chip Cookies for Passover to celebrate, but I won't get around to posting the recipe until Pesach is way way over. Unless you're one of the unfortunate ones that will be subjected to a painfully long seder; in that case, I might post the recipe before Elijah's breaking and entering into your home. Only time will tell.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

[Cookie 070] Mocha Shortbread


I really like coffee. I am rather snobby about it. Some might call me a coffee snob, but I prefer the term "Overall Snob," because I am snobby about lots of things. Yeah, that's right, I said it. I embrace my snobitude. But I am particularly particular about coffee. I do not see the point in buying a cup of coffee if it's not going to be decent. I'll pay a higher price if it's going to be good, because I figure that it would be a bigger waste of money to buy a cheap cup of coffee even if it is more affordable. I'd rather go without it altogether--can you smell the snobbiness yet? And don't even get me started on Starbucks...


Anyway, last week was Spring Break and I went Mexico. And I let random strangers do Tequila shots out of my belly button and flashed my boobies on TV and had Pina Coladas for breakfast (only one of those statements is true, and its the last one, thank you very much). It was beautiful and relaxing and warm and I got food poisoning and a tan, and had a great time. One problem: couldn't get a good cup of coffee to save my life. There was one little cafe owned by a Canadian dude that served a decent double Americano. I would have ordered a regular cup o joe except the owner could tell I was a coffee snob, and told me that if I really really liked coffee, I should go for the double Americano. Now, in New York I'd be a little scared to order that because 1) I am not the biggest Americano fan and 2) double shots tend to make me jump up and down and want to sprint up the entire length of Manhattan. This one, however, tasted like a regular cup of coffee. Hmm. Well, I drank it. The rest of the week we got our morning coffee from the Oxxo around the corner (that's an Am/Pm convenience store in American terms).


Okay, so the coffee sucked. Not the biggest problem when every day of the week I was getting 10 hours of sleep, but still, I enjoy coffee even without its caffeine kick. That's why when I saw this recipe for Mocha Shortbread it really tickled my fancy. But it calls for instant espresso powder, and being on a college student budget, that meant buying some cheap-o espresso powder. In the end, I could barely taste the coffee flavor, even though the shortbread was generally good.


I guess what I'm getting at is that if you really love your coffee, maybe you should add a little extra espresso powder to these guys. Or, you could follow the recipe and just dunk these shortbread wedges into a cup of super strong coffee and get your fix that way. That's what I did. No regrets baby, no regrets. There is nothing I like more than a super strong cup of coffee and a nice, sweet, chocolatey cookie to dip in it. I'm salivating right now, my apologies.


What, you hate coffee? First off, get out. Go, get outta here, and don't let your laptop screen pinch your fingers on the way out. Ah, I'm kidddddding ma cherie! Let's just settle on knowing that you're crazy and I'm not. There, okay that's done with. If you don't like coffee, you could still probably enjoy these cookies, because as I said earlier, they aren't very strongly coffee flavored. You could also omit the coffee entirely and just make regular chocolate shortbread, but that's like eating pasta without any sauce, or toast without any butter or jam, or drinking a virgin margarita. What's the point, amiright?!!?


Anyway, these cookies are good, but nothing to right home about. As I said, they'd be better if they were stronger (either darker chocolate or stronger coffee), but you can remedy it. They would make a great base to a fancier dessert, too--you could top them with homemade whipped cream and a strawberry compote, or drop a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream on top. Or you could make some Sunken Treasure Hot Chocolate/Coffee a la City Bakery (that's when you make some uber thick and decadent hot chocolate--or it could work fantastically with a cappuccino--and drop some secret cookies or toffee or ice cream into the bottom of the's amazing beyond amazing).


So, in conclusion, take this recipe as a jumping off point to make something outlandish. If you come up with any wild ideas, please let me know, I'd love love love to hear them. In the meantime I'll go make another pot of coffee...and peruse this dangerous list.


Mocha Shortbread
Makes 8 wedges

  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for sprinkling

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line and 8-inch round cake or springform pan with parchment paper (I just buttered the pan, and that worked fine). Sift together flour, cocoa, and salt. Stir in coffee, and set aside.
  2. Beat butter until smooth. Add sugar, and beat well. Add flour mixture, and beat until combined.
  3. Pat dough evenly into the pan. Bake until firm, 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed at the edges and dark all over the top. Remove shortbread from oven, let sit for 5 minutes, then cut into 8 wedges. Let cool completely on rack. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar before serving.
  4. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to one week.

{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 1/5 (Dead easy, seriously)
Ingredient Accessibility: 4/5
Tastiness: 3/5
Attractiveness: 3.5/5
Is it worth it?: Look, you know what you're getting. You want chocolate shortbread with a hint of coffee? This is your recipe.

Drink: A big mug of coffee, maybe with a little milk. No sugar needed if you're gonna dip the cookies in it (which is what you will do, trust me on this one).
Song: King of Spain -- The Tallest Man on Earth
Activity: Enjoying a cappuccino at Peet's Coffee and Tea back home in sunny sunny California

Friday, March 26, 2010

[Cookie 069] Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies


Stop what you're doing. I mean it, knock it off, it's not as important as this. I don't care if you're halfway out the door late for work, or if you're checking your blogs on your iPhone during an important meeting--leave, go home, maybe make a quick stop at the supermarket, and then preheat your oven. These Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies are. So. Very. Fantastic. Way more important than taking your kid to soccer practice--seriously, they probably would rather ditch it anyway to eat these cookies.


But, a small tangent before I proceed. I don't know how many of you live in Manhattan, or how many of you have simply read about this cookie on other blogs, but a few days ago I finally tried the Compost Cookie at Momofuku Milk Bar in the East Village. Let me paint you a picture of this cookie: Chocolate + Pretzels + Potato Chips + Coffee grinds + Butterscotch Chips. Gooey inside, crunchy here and there, and salty in all the right spots. Okay, I'm sure I've lost some of you at "Potato Chips" but honestly, do NOT knock it until you've tried it. I'm in love.


What I'm getting at is that lots of times the longer the ingredient list, the better the cookie is. What, that's wrong you say? Or, that's obvious? Maybe, but lots of the time I find that when browsing for recipes in The Book I skip over the longer looking recipe lists because for some reason I think it might be a more difficult recipe, or just might take too long to make. But, seriously, there is a reason for it. And in the case of both the infamous Compost Cookie and these Carrot Cake Cookies, don't question it. Make the trip to the market, buy what you don't have, and make it. Done. It's a dead easy recipe, this one, and the abundant list of ingredients really makes the flavor in these cookies shine.


As for this recipe, I dare you to come up with a reason why they don't sound like the most delicious idea you've ever heard of (unless you don't like Carrot Cake--blasphemy!!). Seriously, my friends and I ate these in 2 seconds flat, and I immediately regretted halving the recipe. Make the whole recipe. Seriously trust me on this one.


The cookies are perfect on their own too: the edges are crispy but the centers are puffy and soft and loaded with everything delicious. But when you sandwich two together with a dollop of that cream cheese frosting, it's bliss.


It's one of the only recipes that my friends have begged me to stop my "new cookie every week" regimen and bake only these for the rest of eternity.


Okay, you're convinced now, right? Great! Send me a few in the mail, I don't care if they don't ship well. I'll lick the cardboard box if I have to.


Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies
Makes about 25 sandwiches

  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots, (about 3 large carrots)
  • 1 cup raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugars and butter; beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until well combined.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; stir to combine. Gradually add flour to butter mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended. Mix in oats, carrots, and raisins. Chill dough in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.
  3. Using a 1/2-ounce ice-cream scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Transfer to oven, and bake until browned and crisped, rotating pan halfway through baking to ensure even color, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat baking process with remaining dough. Once cooled completely, use an offset spatula to spread about 2 teaspoons of cream-cheese filling onto a cookie. Sandwich together with a second cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
  1. Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine.

{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 2/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 3.5/5
Tastiness: 5/5 (All tasty, allllll tasty)
Attractiveness: 3.5/5
Is it worth it?: yesyeseyesyesyesyesyesyeseysyesyesyeyseyseysyeyseyseysyesyesss!

Drink: You don't need anything. Maybe water.
Song: Don't Fuck Around with Love -- Blenders
Activity: Listening to that song whilst eating these cookies: Greatest idea 2010!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

[Cookie 068] Chocolate-Black Pepper Cookies


Ohmigod hey! I haven't seen you in forever! You look great! Tan and slim! It must be the lack of posting on this blog which has gotten you out of the kitchen, away from the cookies, and into the burgeoning spring sunshine. All that Vitamin D really has done you good, but it's time to come inside, rev up the ole' oven and computer, and get back to work. I am back. This blog is back. Cookie-making shall commence, and I need partners at my side.


I, for one, just got back from Spring Break vacation in none other than the most cliche college Spring Break vacation spot in the world: Mexico. No, not Tijuana, or Cancun, or even Acapulco (thank god because it got a little scary there this past week, so I heard); instead, I went to a sleepy seaside town with a stunning beach and delicious food that gave me food poisoning. BUMMER! I had a fabulous time aside from the ailment, but even as I write this entry in the comfort of my NYC bed, I am still suffering from abdominal pains to beat the band. Not good. I did get tanner though. Oh but the sickness, the sickness...

What's worse, my diet is now highly compromised, in a bad way. I shouldn't eat too much sugar or heavy foods (not that I even want to), which means no cookies until I feel better. Fortunately, I have quite a few recipes waiting to be posted! Good for you, and good for me!


This one here, these Chocolate-Black Pepper Cookies, were a surprisingly tasty cookie recipe. My friends and I had begun to think that a lot of Martha's chocolate shortbread-like cookies all taste rather similar (ie. Chocolate Charms and Cocoa Shortbread Diamonds), but these had a lot of extra spices and ingredients which really worked in the cookie. You've got cinnamon, espresso, black pepper, plus all that chocolate, and it's really excellent.


Now, I was hesitant, as you might be, about sprinkling freshly ground pepper straight on top of the cookies. I was like, hold up! Back it up! Wha?! Peppa?! Okay, I didn't say all of that, or maybe I did--regardless, it seems a little strange. But it does something crazy to your tastebuds. It almost tastes fruity, in a way, when paired next to the dark chocolate, and all the sugar on the outside. Trust me, you'll like it, and if you're worried, just sprinkle it on a few cookies for the first batch, and after you taste them, you'll be grinding pepper over all the others in no time.


As for the recipe itself? Easy peasy, as usual. I strongly recommend storing your rolls of cookie dough in paper towel tubes in the refrigerator so you can get perfectly round logs. I always save my paper towel rolls (or I try) and people think I'm crazy, but look who's crazy now!! I've got PERFECTLY SYMMETRICALLY ROUND COOKIES!! (Yes, I am still the crazy one...I realize this)

So, in summation, it's good to be back in the USA, even if it does mean no more direct sunlight, beaches, 85ยบ weather, camarones/chilequiles/pina coladas at 9 am---who am I kidding, I wish I was still on vacation, but what can you do! You gotta take that Pepto Bismal, bust out the old text books, and bite the bullet. C'est la vie, but hey, at least it's spring!!!


Chocolate-Black Pepper Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen (I think? Not sure...the website doesn't say)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground pepper, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon good-quality instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Coarse sanding sugar, for rolling

  1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, pepper, espresso powder, and cinnamon into a large bowl; set aside.
  2. Put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined.
  3. Turn out dough onto a piece of parchment paper, and roll into a 2-inch-diameter log. Roll log in the parchment. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove log from parchment paper. Let soften slightly at room temperature, about 5 minutes. Roll log in sanding sugar, gently pressing down to adhere sugar to dough. Transfer log to a cutting board, and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 1 inch apart. Sprinkle each round with freshly ground pepper.
  5. Bake cookies until there is slight resistance when you lightly touch centers, about 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 days.

{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 3/5 (Sometimes getting the dough into an even log can get tricky--use a ruler pressed against the edge!)
Ingredient Accessibility: 4/5
Tastiness: 4/5
Attractiveness: 3/5
Is it worth it?: Yes, if not just to surprise your friends that pepper can be used in a chocolate dessert!

Drink: Something spicy, like Masala Chai might be nice
Song: Surprise Hotel -- Fool's Gold
Activity: Spring cleaning!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Ain't Dead Yet!

Sorry for the lack of presence, but I will post just as soon as I finish this horrid week filled with essays and physics exams.

Electromagnetically and astronomically yours,