Archive for December, 2012

Christmas cookies for Santa

We made cookies for Santa over the weekend. Here’s the recipe for Chocolate Nutella Orange Pinwheels that Santa will be munching on tonight.

As far as the mix for the “raindeer” I have no idea what my youngest tucked in the bag of “healthy treats” for Rudolph and company.

"Dear Santa, Please bring this to the raindeer it is healthy for them too."

You'll notice a strongman, Perry the Platypus, a volcano, and a squid among our Santa cookies

Santa is going to love these cookies!

Chocolate Nutella Orange Pinwheel Cookies

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Coconut milk chocolate cupcakes

I needed some chocolate therapy this weekend so when a friend of mine passed along a recipe for chocolate cake with the subject line “OMG best cake ever” I had to give it a try. Thanks Jessie!

This recipe for Double-Deep-Chocolate Hanukkah Layer Cake from Gourmet makes for tasty cupcakes. The batter came together fast and filled 28+ cupcakes. (I did 20 then a small-sized loaf for a neighbor.) These are the moistest chocolate cupcakes you’ll ever eat! Even if you’re not a coconut fan, don’t worry, the flavor is slight.

I upped the flavor of the coconut in the frosting with coconut extract.

Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes + baking

Servings: 28 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes

3/4 cup vegetable oil plus more for greasing pans
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process) plus more for dusting pans + 2 tsps. dark cocoa powder (you can also use Espresso powder or my favorite, Black onyx powder)
1 cup water
3/4 cup well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk (I use the 14-oz. Light Coconut Milk can from Trader Joe’s)
3 large eggs, warmed in shell in warm water 5 minutes
1 1/2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

Frosting

Remaining canned coconut milk (about 1 cup)

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)

4 tbsps. butter

Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, water, eggs, coconut milk, and vanilla.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Blend the wet ingredients into the dry until smooth.
  5. Fill cupcake holders 2/3 of the way full.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

Frosting

  1. Microwave all of the frosting ingredients except the vanilla in a glass measuring cup for 1 minute on high.
  2. Stir and continue microwaving at 30-second intervals until the chocolate is smooth; stir in the vanilla.
  3. The frosting will be thin; cool it in the refrigerator until it gets thick enough to spread on the cupcakes.

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Spiced chocolate gingerbread cookies

Someone snagging the last cookie

Sure gingerbread cookies are tasty, but why not add chocolate chips? Oh yeah. Digging around online, I found a recipe on Rachael Ray that tweaked a Joy the Baker recipe to do just that–marry chocolate and chewy gingerbread cookies.

I put my own spin on these cookies by ditching the traditional dip in sugar and upping the spiciness. Intrigued?

Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes + baking

Servings: I think 3 dozen my kids kept eating them before I could count


Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups flour

2 tsps. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsps. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsps. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Pinch of cayenne powder (opt.)

1 tsp. dark cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp.) butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar (dark preferred)

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a baking bowl, except for the brown sugar.
  3. In another bowl, cream together the brown sugar and butter until well combined. Add the molasses, then the egg and vanilla.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the creamed butter. Mix in the chocolate chips.
  5. Roll the cookie batter into 1 – 1 1/2″ balls.
  6. Bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 9 minutes.
  7. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 3 minutes before removing.

*These are better on day 2!

Directions

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Nutella Yule Log

There’s nothing more heart-warming then joining my kids around the kitchen to make a holiday dessert. And then as you’re whipping Nutella into heavy cream discussing what you’d do in the event of a zombie apocalypse. At least that’s where the conversation turned as my teen was helping me put together this yule log (there’s a Norman Rockwell painting in there somewhere, I think). Meanwhile, I was doing extensive testing to make sure the whip cream tasted just right. It’s a tough job, but it’s not one that can be left for the undead.

Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes + lots of time for assembly

Servings: 12

Ingredients:

Cake

The fun part: time to flip!

4 eggs (room temperature)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3/4 sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup flour

1/4 cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. dark cocoa powder (opt. I use black onyx powder, you can use Espresso)

Filling

2 cups heavy cream (oh yeah!)

1/2 cup Nutella

touch of salt

Directions:

Adding Nutella spiked cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking oil.
  3. Beat together the eggs, oil, and sugar until its a pale yellow color.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry cake ingredients.
  5. Carefully fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture just until combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 11 minutes or until the cake springs back from the edges of the pan.
  7. Let the cake cool in the pan for 2 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile liberally dust a clean kitchen cloth with powdered sugar and prepare for flipping.
  9. In my experience, this is a two person job: Flip the cake batter onto the powdered sugar cloth. Roll the cake in the cloth short end to short end.
  10. Leave the cake rolled while you prepare the filling.
  11. Making the filling (and get ready for your kids to fight over who gets to lick the spatula)
  12. On high speed, whip the cream until it just begins to thicken.
  13. Add the Nutella and continue whipping just until stiff. (I add a pinch of salt).
  14. Assembling the yule log:
  15. Slowly unfold the cake in the cloth and gently remove the parchment paper. (I couldn’t find anything in the original recipe about when to take off the parchment paper so I just kept it on.)
  16. Use the spatula to smear the whipped Nutella cream on the unrolled cake being careful not to go all the way to one of the short ends.
  17. Start rolling the cake from short end to short end working toward the non-filled end. The cream will squish toward the non-filled end. (I also find this is a two person job.)
  18. Wrap the roll in parchment and then aluminum foil.
  19. Freeze for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  20. Slice and serve.

Inspired by the King Arthur Flour recipe for chocolate and peppermint yule log.

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10 Minute Holiday Cookie Recipe

A few weeks ago I was able to visit with Jenny Harper, the Chief Cookie Officer for Nestle Kitchens for a story I was working on. Does that sound like a dream job or what? Jenny is the one who comes up with the recipes on the back of Nestle Toll House morsels and other Nestle baking products.

So when I needed to make a quick treat for an event I was going to I thought of Jenny and turned to the back of a bag of Nestle’s Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels for inspiration. The recipe for “Magic Mint Chocolate Bark” was simple and fun to make with my kids. I doubled the recipe to make sure we had extras. (Use a 11 x 9″ brownie pan and half of the morsels to make the standard batch.)

Mint Chocolate Bark

Prep time: 5 minutes

Servings: 18

Ingredients

2 10-ounce bags Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels (I did one bag of the mint morsels and another bag of dark chocolate)

3/4 cup chopped roasted almonds

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line a 9×13″ cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  3. Dump the chocolate chips onto the lined pan. Spread out the chips so they fill the pan.
  4. Bake the chips for 4 minutes; they’ll be shiny when you remove them from the oven and won’t appear to be melted.
  5. Use a kitchen knife to swirl the chocolate together (you won’t see any more of the green color).
  6. Top with chopped almonds, or pretzels, potato chip pieces, or dried fruit.
  7. Here’s the fun part: to help the toppings sink into the chocolate hold that pan about 3 inches above the counter (I put a large cutting board down for this) and then drop the pan.
  8. Place the pan in the refrigerator for an hour and then break apart the pieces.

Hanging out with Nestle's Chief Cookie Officer

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