Monday, February 21, 2011

Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies

I was planning to make some sort of Valentine’s Day treat but when I realized that I didn’t have any heart-shaped cookie cutters I was stumped as to what I should make. I came across this chocolate cookie recipe and figured if I rolled them in red sprinkles that could qualify them as a V-Day dessert. To mix it up I left some plain and others I rolled in a mint-sugar mix. The mint-sugar cookies got the most enthusiastic thumbs up as the mint paired really well with the strong chocolate flavor.

I did have a problem with some of the cookies in that the middles never set so they fell apart when I tried to move them off the cookie sheet. There’s nothing sadder than cookies that never got to realize their full potential… I’m thinking that I just made those cookies too big which is why they didn’t quite cook through. So if you keep them on the smaller side than you’ll probably have better luck than I did.

Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies (from Allrecipes)

Servings: 42

1 pound semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Melt chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring occasionally until smooth. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream butter with white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in coffee crystals and vanilla until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the dry ingredients just until everything comes together. Cover, and let stand in fridge for at least 35 minutes so the chocolate can set up.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. Roll dough into walnut sized balls, or drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. You can roll the cookies in sprinkles or sugar if you'd like.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Cookies will be set, but the centers will still be very soft because of the chocolate. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Malted Coconut-Mocha Bars

Superbowl Sunday turned into a baking and cooking spree. I started with cornbread, then once that finished I set to work on dessert. Then an hour or so before the game started we put a pot of chili on. For a lazy Sunday it wasn't very relaxing!

I came across these bars when I was looking for something to make for my parents as they were stopping by for a visit. These bars have 3 components - the base, the filling and the icing. Apparently every time I attempt to do icing it's a disaster of sorts. So don't repeat my mistake. When the recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups sifted flour that means you should measure it after you sift it, not before. I messed this up and ended up having to double the icing as it didn't completely cover the bars. Whoops...

Regardless, these bars were a hit. The shortbread base pairs perfectly with the sweet icing, and the hint of coconut gives them a nice flavor hit. They may look complicated but they're really not, especially if you're better at following directions than I am.

Malted Coconut-Mocha Bars (adapted from Culinary in the Desert)

For the base

11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole-wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the filling

3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1/2 cup chocolate malted milk powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the frosting

2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup chocolate malted milk powder or mix of malted milk powder and cocoa
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 to 5 teaspoons boiling water

To make the base

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours and salt. Beat in the flour mixture until combined - it will be very thick. Scoop mixture into a 9 x 13" baking pan lightly coated with nonstick spray. Evenly pat mixture onto bottom of the pan. Bake until set - about 15 minutes.

To make the filling

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Stir in coconut, the malted milk powder, flour, espresso powder, baking powder and salt until well combine. Gently, but quickly spread mixture over the partially baked crust. Place back in the oven and bake until the middle looks set - about 20 to 25 minutes more. Remove and set on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together confectioners' sugar, malted milk powder, vanilla, and just enough of the boiling water to make the frosting spreadable.

Using an off-set spatula, evenly spread icing over the bars.

Makes about 24 bars.