Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chocolate Malted M&M Cookies

For last week's Sunday treat I did a spin on Dennis's favorite, M&M bars. These cookies have plenty of M&M's (I use dark chocolate M&Ms since we both prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate), along with some chocolate malt powder. The chocolate malt powder gives them a little zing, incorporating just a bit of extra chocolate flavor. We both think that a little more malt flavor would have been even better, so I'll try upping that next time and see what happens.

The original recipe calls for using 2 different kinds of shortening but I used 8 tablespoons shortening and 8 tablespoons butter. Next time I might use all shortening, just to see what the difference is.

Dennis's comment on the cookies was that they had a nice contrast between the crunch of the M&Ms and that the softness of the actual cookies. He's also been eating them for a week straight so I think that's the biggest endorsement!

Chocolate Malted M&M Cookies (from Culinary in the Desert)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons shortening
8 tablespoons butter flavored shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate malt powder
2 cups M&Ms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortenings together - add sugars and beat until combined.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing until combined after each. Mix in vanilla. Add the malt powder and slowly mix until combined. Add the flour gradually and mix just until combined. Stir in M&Ms. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

Drop dough by tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake until golden and almost set in the center, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool on the baking sheets about 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to completely cool.

Makes about 40 cookies.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Whole Wheat Rolls

So this weekend gave us our first Nor'easter of the season. I didn't even know you could have those in mid-October but the temperature hasn't climbed above 40 for the past few days and the sun has also been in hiding. Weather like this usually causes me to curl up on the couch and stay there for hours at a time, so I decided to at least be productive and whip up a batch of one of my favorite (healthy) treats, whole wheat rolls.

My mom got this recipe from a co-workers years ago and it quickly worked its way into regular rotation. These rolls are great for breakfast with some jam on top, or for lunch with a bowl of soup. They're not too dense as some whole wheat baked goods tend to be, and they're easy to make. You just need to set some time aside as the dough has to rise. I like to put the dough in an oven with the pilot light on. That provides a bit of heat to get the yeast going, and keeps it away from drafts.

Whole Wheat Rolls

1 1/4 cup scalded milk
2 1/2 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
1/4 cup butter
2 packages yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 3/4 cup white flour
1 1/2 cup wheat flour

Scald milk - i.e. put the heat on low until little bubbles form in the milk. You don't want it to boil. Then cool the milk to lukewarm and stir in the sugar, butter and salt. In a small bowl sprinkle the yeast into warm water and stir until dissolved. Stir into the lukewarm mixture and add flour.

Put the dough into a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise until the size has doubled. Punch down the dough and put it into a muffin tin. Let the dough rise until a size you like.

Bake the rolls at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Irish Soda Bread

When I was growing up one of our neighbors would always make Irish Soda Bread around St. Patrick's Day. That was the only kind I ever ate so that spoiled me for Irish soda bread. It was moist, studded with raisins, and absolutely delicious.

A few months ago I baked a version that didn't quite taste the way I remembered. To be honest it really didn't taste like Irish soda bread, more like white bread with raisins. So we tried again with a recipe I found online that uses a cast iron skillet to bake the bread in. This time the bread turned out great, nice and moist with just the touch of sweetness that Irish soda bread should have. The original recipe calls for caraway seeds but those were never in the Irish soda bread I grew up with so I left them out. Feel free to throw some in if that's your thing. I personally would rather just add more raisins...

Skillet Irish Soda Bread (adapted from Smitten Kitchen/NY Times)
Yield: 1 10-inch loaf.

Butter for greasing pan plus 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups raisins or currants

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch oven-proof skillet and line with parchment or waxed paper.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined. Do not overmix. Stir in the raisins.
3. Pour batter into skillet. Brush top with remaining butter. Bake until golden and firm to touch, about 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.