vrijdag 22 juni 2007

Macadamia white chocolate chunk cookies

Even if this cookie does not come from the book I'm following, I wanted to share this one because it was the first american cookie recipe I made, and the one that has since haunted me ;o). My husband and I were vacationing in Florida for the very first time, when we bought a bag of Pepperidge farm cookies. We picked the macadamia nut version, because we truly had never heard from the nut before and wanted to try it. We bought bag after bag after eating that first cookie, and when we got home, I wanted to make them at home so we could keep on enjoying them.

A friend came to the rescue and found a copycat recipe on the internet. It was only months after that, that I finally tracked the nuts down in a supermarket in Germany (luckily, they are readily available all over Germany, just not here in the Netherlands). I went back to the recipe, tried to convert the cup measures into the metric system, and started baking.

The cookies did not taste like the ones we bought, but they were great. The people we shared them with have all been crazy about them. My BIL, who is definately the biggest fan, calls them 'killers' and that's what we all call them now. Since then, I've baked them for gatherings, as thank you's, as hostess gifts, as pick me ups for friends, you name it, I used it as a reason to share them. When I took pastry classes, I shared them with my class mates, and one of them introduced them in the restaurant he worked in where they serve them with coffee after dessert.

Years later, I discovered that in calculating grams for cups, I miscalculated the amount of nuts and chocolate. The original recipe had a ginormous yield and I halved it. I forgot to halve these two ingredients and I think that is what makes them extraordinary.

The recipe is very forgiving, you'll just have a little trouble making sure you get some dough with the nuts/chocolate :o). These freeze beautifully, and even the dough freezes well. Just portion them (I use a cookie scoop) before you do. I try to refrigerate dough balls for at least an hour or two before I bake them.

Pepperidge farm Sausalito cookies (copycat recipe with alterations)
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt (I omit as I use salted nuts)
2 1/2 cups of flour
12 oz chopped white chocolate (I prefer big chunks)
3 cups chopped macadamia nuts (I only chop roughly).

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease cookie sheets (I use parchment or silicone mats).

Cream together sugars, butter, egg and vanilla (I use stand mixer with paddle attachment).
In another bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt (I never do this, I just dump everything in with the creamed butter mixture). Mix until just blended. Add chocolate and nuts and briefly mix or stir with a wooden spoon. Form into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes (I actually bake them 12-14 minutes as we are of the crunchy cookie lovers' camp!).

woensdag 20 juni 2007

Cashew puffies

Another recipe that does not require much effort and can be whipped up quickly and easily. The recipe calls for unsalted cashews, but I was too lazy to wash and recrisp mine, so I just threw them in, salt and all, and omitted the salt called for in the recipe. I creamed butter and sugar, added egg and vanilla, then the sour cream and got suspicious about a good outcome as the batter separated/curdled at this point. It came together when the flour was added, but I've seen too many pound cake batters curdle before my eyes (I'm seriously cursed when it comes to pound cakes for some reason) to know it can be disastrous. Anyway, proceeded as directed, baked, test tasted and plain didn't like them. I found them rubbery, dry, and overall pretty much uninteresting. The taste of the mellow cashews just didn't stand out in the sweetness of the dough. No spices to add some interest either. I won't be making them again, easy or not! I rate them 5 (out of 10), my husband said 7. Makes an average of 6, which makes it the least liked recipe so far. Oh well, can't win 'em all, right?

maandag 18 juni 2007

Mahogany buttercrunch toffee

I made this last Thursday, when I was in the mood to whip something up but didn't have a lot of time. Plus, I had the (very few and basic) ingredients on hand which helped in picking this one too :o). Basically, this is toasted nuts, cooked caramel and chopped up chocolate. Easy peasy!

I toasted the amount of blanched, sliced, almonds called for, and chopped them in the food processor. Spread half the nuts out in a rectangle on a Silpat, cooked the caramel, poured it over the nuts and sprinkled the hot caramel with chopped chocolate. I used milk chocolate on one half, and bittersweet on the other. When that melted, I spread it out and sprinkled the other half of the nuts on. I just left it on my kitchen counter until the next morning. I was surprised to find the chocolate still wasn't very firm (it had been quite warm all day so the kitchen wasn't exactly cool), but a few minutes in the fridge cured all problems. I could easily break it into pieces then, only lost a lot of nuts in the proces. It appeared that a lot of the first nut layer hadn't stuck to the caramel layer, so it wasn't as nutty as I'd wanted it to be.

All of this had to be done in quite a hurry, so much that I didn't get to take a picture and didn't get to taste it. My husband, who took it to work, reported that he thought it was the best recipe I had tried so far, and that his coworkers agreed. So I definately will have to make it again. I think I'll use hazelnuts next round, and chop them very coarsely or not at all, to have the extra nuttiness in each bite :o). I'll make sure to take pictures then!

Next up: cashew puffies.

zondag 10 juni 2007

Peanut butter and jelly jewels

I remember making this cookie before. It was one of the first recipes I tried out of this book, just because I was fascinated by the use of peanut butter in almost everything edible in the US ;o). I mean there's peanut butter crackers, cookies, ice cream, peanut butter as a dip for veggies, apples, peanut butter pretzels, I don't even know what else, but I know there was a lot! So back to the cookies. The first time I tried them I used the chocolate filling, and I honestly don't remember what the outcome was then. So I did them again, this time with the cherry jelly, because after all, this is about trying new things, right?
Dough was easy enough. I creamed everything, chilled the dough, formed balls as directed (although I messed up the size, because I only got 40 instead of 60 cookies), made the holes, and those dough balls kind of cracked even after chilling. But, I just went ahead and they came out fine. I wasn't pleased with the cherries in the jam I bought, so I used canned cherries to top the cookies with and boiled down the jelly as directed to coat.
I have to say the cherries made for a lovely contrast and a nice presentation (and much 'fresher' than chocolate could have been in this case) but this wasn't one of my favorites. Just too much peanut butter, a little too sandy, a little too fall apart-y, just not my favorite cookie. I say 6, my husband sais 8 our of 10. On to the next!

zondag 3 juni 2007

Laura Brody's chocolate phantoms

It was time for chocolate, and these cookies looked very promising with the macadamia nuts and all. I have to say, when I was making the batter (that is mainly chocolate, just an oz of flour!) I kept thinking they were more of a fancy candy than a cookie. I used a combo of 55% and 70% chocolate because I didn't want them to turn out too sweet. I must say that this was *fabulous*. Very chocolatey, not sweet, lots of nuts, and slightly chewy. When I open the container I stored them in, the chocolate smell is overwhelming. But then, what else could you expect of a recipe that calls for an lb of chocolate?
We both rated them 8 out of ten. Very, very good!