Friday, October 29, 2010

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.....

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Honestly, there isn't much to say about these.... the pictures pretty much say it all.

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Can't you almost taste them?

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It's like a powdered donut (one of my personal favorites) and a chocolate bar rolled into one.

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And if you think you've had chocolate crinkle cookies before.... you might want to give these a shot anyway. They have mini chocolate chips inside. Genius I tell ya, genius. Oh, and some serious chocolate overload to boot....but a little chocolate overload never hurt anyone. In fact, sometimes it's for the best.

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
adapted from Williams Sonoma Baking Essentials

4 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup (2 oz) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mini semisweet chips
1/2 cup (to 1 cup) confectioners sugar

Place the semisweet chips and butter into a double broiler and gently heat and stir until melted. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, mix the flour cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Mix together with a fork until well combined.

In a stand mixer, combine the eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until the mixture both lightens in color and thickens (about 3 minutes or so). Add the melted chocolate mixture to the blender and mix until just combined. Add the dry ingredients in 2 to 3 batches and mix until just combined. Finally, add the mini chocolate chips and mix until they are distributed throughout.

Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours or so, until the dough is firm enough to roll into little balls.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Roll cooled dough into 1 tablespoon-sized balls. I always use my trusty little mini ice cream scoop for cookies....that way they all come out uniform and my obsessive compulsive side can rest easy. Once the dough is rolled into a ball, drop it in to the confectioners sugar and roll it around to coat it. Then place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bake for 13 to 17 minutes until the tops are cracked and feel firm when touched. Cool and then eat.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blackberry Crumb Cake

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I feel like it's been a while since I shared a cake. Today seemed as good a time as any, so here ya go.

Blackberry Crumb Cake. Blackberries are one of my favorite things on this earth.

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This recipe is from The Barefoot Contessa. She used fresh blueberries, but you can use any berry you'd like. I'm sure she won't mind. I have made this particular cake 3 times now. The first couple times I did indeed use fresh blueberries, but they aren't in season any more, and I had some frozen blackberries in my freezer. It was killer. Both ways.

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Streusel topping also ranks pretty darn high on my list of favorite things...yours too? Oh good.
This one's a keeper. Trust me.

Blackberry Crumb Cake
adapted from Ina Garten and

To make the streusel topping:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

Combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter. Mix well and set aside.

To make the cake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups fresh/frozen blackberries, roughly chopped (or 1 cup fresh blueberries)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, and mix until just combined, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Gently mix the berries with about a tablespoon or so of flour...just enough to barely coat them. Gently fold in the berries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife.

With your fingers, crumble the streusel topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and serve.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Spicy Chicken Tenders or Non-Spicy Chicken Tenders.....whichever you prefer

Simple, simple, simple......and yummy!  These were slightly spicy and delicious.

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They are coated in a cornmeal crust with some cayenne pepper and chili powder mixed in, which resulted in a light and crunchy crust that I loved.  But I am a little biased, and am also a huge fan of cornmeal these days.  (Note: If you're feeding either a kid, or a picky eater, you can adjust the cayenne pepper to suit. I have made it one other time and I believe I put in half the cayenne pepper that the recipe calls for, without a complaint from the natives.)

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And you bake them in the oven.  No frying mess. Yay!  I was sold immediately. I breaded them a couple hours ahead of dinner so they were all ready to just pop into the oven. Really. They can't be beat.

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The honey mustard sauce that accompanies these is a must-have.  It is frighteningly simple to put together, the kick from the dijon was wonderful, and it looks pretty alongside.  Your friends will ask you where you got it....

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These could be served as an appetizer, or as a main dish.  I served them alongside a vegetable parmesan, to satisfy those at the table who need a little something else with an all-veggie dish.  It did the trick.

Spicy Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard Sauce
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis and

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
3 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 to 2 lbs of chicken tenders
Olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt

Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a heavy baking sheet liberally with vegetable oil cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and 1 tablespoon salt. In a second medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and hot sauce. In a third medium bowl, mix together the cornmeal, chili powder and cayenne pepper.

Dredge the chicken in the flour and then into the egg mixture. Allow any excess egg mixture to drip off and coat the chicken in the cornmeal mixture.

Arrange the breaded chicken in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, to taste. Bake until golden and cooked through, about 15 to 17 minutes.

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce:
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup Dijon or whole-grain mustard

Mix the two together until smooth. Set aside to serve with tenders when ready.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti


They are undoubtedly the perfect accompaniment to a cup of hot tea. Rustic, but still elegant. And after going for a 'dunk', melt in your mouth delicious.

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These have the added pleasure of a little sweetness from the cranberries and some added crunch as well as a little salty bite from the pistachios (my pistachios were salted). Biscotti are about as simple as a cookie comes, and homemade biscotti are not even comparable to the store bought variety. You know you want to.....make some!

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Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti
adapted from Williams Sonoma Baking Essentials

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a stand mixer, combine eggs and sugar and beat at medium speed until light in color and thick (approx 3 minutes). Add the melted butter, orange zest, vanilla and almond extract and blend until combined.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the mixer and blend until just combined. Then add the pistachios and cranberries, and again, mix until just combined.

You will have enough dough for 2 cookie 'logs'. Remove half of the cookie dough from the mixing bowl and on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, form a flat 'log' about 10 inches long and 3 inches wide. It doesn't have to be perfect, these are beautiful rustic looking cookies. Just pat and shape until you've got it about right. Then, scoot that bad boy over, and shape a similar 'log' with the remaining cookie dough.

Bake the logs in the oven for for 20 to 25 minutes. They should be firm, golden and a little crisp on the outside. Let logs cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes. Gently transfer one log to a cutting board and using a serrated knife, slice the log into 3/4 inch wide pieces. Do the same with the other log.

Lay the slices back on the parchment lined cookie sheet with the cut side down, and bake again for 17 to 22 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes immediately out of the oven, and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.