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Posts tagged ‘cookies’

Okay, I’m not gonna deny it. I didn’t make a Valentine’s-Day-specific dessert this year. Bad Kitchy Cooker. Bad. But while I was hanging my head in shame I realized I’ve made plenty of desserts for the blog and some of them have even been chocolate. (Who am I kidding? Most of them have been chocolate.) And since I’ve seen plenty of Valentine’s Day roundups this year, I thought why not do one of my own? I mean, I’ve always been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. And no, it’s not because of the cards… although getting cards and presents are always nice. It’s because of all the chocolate.

Yes, my name is Jennifer Richmond and I’m a chocoholic. So of course I live for the one holiday a year where it’s all about chocolate. The only thing that makes chocolate better? Why adding fruit to it of course. And if you can combine those two things while adding a splash of pink… oh my god, I’ll do whatever you say.

But if you’re not the chocolate fan that I am, I won’t hold it against you. There are plenty of Valentine dessert options out there that don’t have one ounce of chocolate in them.  (I’ve even made a few. Please don’t tell anyone.) Below is a list of some of my favorite sweet treats perfect for the upcoming heart-shaped holiday. I even included one that isn’t chocolate but is just as tasty because I am trying to venture outside my comfort zone. Really… I swear.

  1. Maraschino Whoopie Pies
  2. Black Forest Brownies
  3. Chocolate-Port Cake
  4. Chocolate Potato Cake with Raspberry Frosting
  5. Blood Orange Valentines
  6. Strawberry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

If your curling your lip in disgust, don’t worry, you’re not alone. I did the exact same thing when my trainer told me about them. I mean why in the world would you put avocado and chocolate chips in the same cookie? One’s great for salads, dips and baby food and the other is the perfect dessert ingredient. They don’t seem to have anything in common and yet they make one of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted.

Not only are these chocolate chip cookies super yummy, they’re rich, chewy and super healthy. You may think avocados are fattening but it turns out that the fat in them is the good kind of fat that’s easily burned for energy. Wouldn’t it be great to have cookies that add energy rather than suck it like so many of the desserts we usually ingest?  I think so.

Now you may be wondering how a whole avocado fits into a cookie.  That’s easy.  Since the avocado lacks a lot flavor it makes the ideal ingredient when it comes to desserts. This creamy fruit (yes, it’s a fruit because of its pit) actually makes the perfect substitute for butter or cream. And that’s exactly what I used it for. Instead of the standard cup of butter that usually goes into my chocolate chip cookies, I only used five tablespoons. Five tablespoons! That’s not even a whole stick.  And you know what? I didn’t miss the butter in the cookies at all.  They were still just as rich as they were when I made them the regular way with all butter and no avocados.

The one thing I wasn’t expecting with these cookies though, was that they didn’t expand while cooking. They maintained their spoon-like shape from when I put them on the cookie sheet.  So, yes, the cookies were smaller than expected but they were still just as yummy. And since they were smaller and healthier, I could have three or four and not feel guilty.  And isn’t that what we’ve all been searching for for decades anyway: a way to eat numerous cookies without the guilt?  I know it’s something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember.

These avocado cookies got me thinking: what other vegetables could I use to make tasty desserts healthier?  Kale inside brownies? Ancho chilis inside a chocolate cake? Why not? I mean, we already have carrot cake and zucchini bread. Who knows how many possibilities there are. I can tell you one thing for sure. I’m now on a mission to find out.  Any suggestions?

Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 of a large ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (12 oz.) package chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Mix together the butter, avocado, sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time.  Add in the vanilla and mix until combined.
  4. Gradually add in the flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips, oats and nuts.
  6. Using a large spoon, drop rounds onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack and serve.

You know what I love about this time of year? All the citrus available.  I’m such a huge lemon and orange fan, I’d love to have a tree or two of my very own.

Actually we do have a lemon tree, but for some weird reason it’s never taken root. I don’t know why, we’ve tried everything from planting the tree in two different spots, to fertilizing it and pruning it back. But for whatever reason, the tree refuses to grow. So, I’m forced to do what most people do and buy my lemons, limes and oranges at the market.

Lucky for me, my farmer’s market is overflowing with citrus so I don’t have to suffer the long winter months without a daily dose of vitamin C. But what to do with all that citrus? Juicing is an option, however I prefer using these wonderful orange and yellow spheres in things I can eat. I don’t care if it’s an entrée like this blood orange beef stir fry or a dessert like these tangy lemon/lime bars.

Anyone who knows me though, knows I’m a baker first and that I especially love cookies and bars. So, when I saw a recipe for blood orange bars I thought why not make some of my own? It’s true they’re not nearly as tart as the lemon version but they’re just as tasty. And since the juice is a beautiful fuschia, I figured the bars would be a lovely pink – perfect for Valentine’s Day.

I was wrong.

I made two batches of these bars and both pans were nowhere near pink. They were orange, dark orange. Not to worry, though, a few drops of red food coloring made them the pretty salmon color you see in the photos.

Once I was done trouble-shooting the color, I had to decide how to cut them. If I were serving them at a Valentine’s Day party, I absolutely would have cut them into squares because you get a lot more bang for your buck. But it’s Valentine’s Day, and there’s nothing sweeter than a heart-shaped treat, especially if you want to do something extra special for your honey.  Besides, taking that extra step guarantees your sweetie will be tickled… pink.

Blood Orange Valentines

Ingredients:

For the Crust

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of flour
  • pinch of salt

For the Filling

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 Tbsp blood orange zest
  • 2-1/2 cups of blood orange juice.
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 4-6 drops of red food coloring

Directions:

For the Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until they’re a pale yellow.  In a separate bowl combine the flour and salt.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until just combined.
  3. Press the dough into a 9×13 pan and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Cook the crust for 15-20 minutes or until it’s light brown in color.  Let crust cool, but leave the oven on.

For the Filling

  1. Whisk the eggs, sugar, zest, juice and flour together in a large bowl.  Add the food coloring and stir until you reach the desired pink color. Strain through a mesh sieve, pour over the cooled crust and bake for 35-40 minutes.
  2. Let cool.
  3. Dust with powdered sugar.
  4. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut into hearts and serve.

The holidays are here!  I can’t believe Christmas is Tuesday. Can you?  I feel like it was just Halloween. But since it is the holidays that means holiday cards.

Holiday cards? On a food blog? Yes! Because every year since A was born we’ve been sending out these cards. And every year has had a different theme. When A was 1 we did vintage at Union Station.

When he was 2 we decided to do a Fall theme with sweaters and those beautiful red and orange leaves. What you don’t know is that we shot these photos in Pasadena where not only were there no red or orange leaves, we were all sweating buckets due to the 90 degree heat.  But hey, we still had a good time.

This year, our photographer, Jennifer Castle, whose documented every one of our cards, suggested we bake cookies. Being the food blogger I am I jumped at the opportunity. I mean, I love to bake and nothing says holidays more to me than making cookies and family. But what made it a really great idea was that this year A is finally old enough to help me measure, mix and roll.

So please indulge me as I share the family photos Jen took while we all made this year’s Christmas and Hanukkah cookies. That’s right, I’m cheating a little with this post. While I swear that A and I made the cookies, all the photos except the first three are from Jen.

Yes, A did have fun mixing the dough, but as you can see, he enjoyed eating the cookie dough just as much. Course you know that only means one thing… I raised him right!

Next up, rolling out the dough and cutting up our cookies:

And of course tasting the final product, because let’s face it, what good is making cookies if you don’t get to eat them afterward?

All in all we had a blast and can’t thank Jen enough for capturing our messy merry making. And the best news is, we still have a ton of dough left over to make even more cookies.  So, we hope you have as much fun making this year’s sugar cookies as we did.

Happy Holidays from your Kitchy Cooker!

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about four minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined, about one minute. Add the lemon zest.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.
  3. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Divide the dough in half and freeze for one hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  5. Sprinkle flour over a hard surface and roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.
  6. Cut into desired shapes and place on a greased cookie sheet about an inch apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
  7. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Serve as is or iced with your favorite frosting.

Hamantaschen

Tonight is the first night of Purim. That’s the Jewish holiday where kids and adults dress up in costume (like the mask above made by Jason Rodgers) and cheer, boo and hiss while story of Haman, Esther and Mordechai is read aloud.

In case you don’t know the story, it goes like this: The Persian king, Ahasuerus, needed a new queen. He held a contest among all the eligible women in the kingdom and picked Esther, a beautiful young girl who was orphaned early in her life and also happened to be Jewish.  She was raised by her uncle Mordechai who advised her not to reveal her heritage when she went to meet the king. Esther followed her uncle’s advice and soon thereafter became the new queen.

A few years later King Ahasuerus promoted Haman to be his chief advisor. Haman was a wicked man who expected everyone to bow down to him. Mordechai would not bow down because he believed Jews should only bow down to God. So Haman, incensed and humiliated, vowed to kill all the Jews. He drew lots or Purim to pick the day of annihilation and convinced the king to go along with his plan. Mordechai heard of Haman’s evil plot and told Esther, asking her to speak to the king in defense of her people. She agreed and asked that the king and Haman join her for two banquets. At the second banquet she told the king of Haman’s evil plan and revealed that she was Jewish. Outraged by this act of betrayal, King Ahasuerus ordered that Haman be hanged. He was and Mordechai was elevated to a position of great power and influence. Now Purim is observed with two days of storytelling, merrymaking, drinking and feasting.  It’s actually the only Jewish holiday where you’re supposed to get so drunk, you don’t remember whether Haman is the villain or the hero.

While nuts, chocolate and alcohol are often consumed during the Purim festivities, the most common dessert you’ll find are hamantaschen – little cookies filled with a fruity marmalade in the center. They’re similar to those delightful circular cookies you have at tea parties, but these are little triangles. Why triangles, you ask? Because Haman’s hat was supposedly triangular. While the cookies come in a variety of flavors, the most common choices are poppy seed, prune and apricot. Since I’m not a big fan of the poppy seed as I’m a big believer in cookies being sweet as opposed to savory, I opted for the prune and apricot. They’re sweet but not too sweet and surprisingly easy to make.

Hamantaschen

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces dried apricots
  • 6 ounces pitted prunes
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a small pan, heat the apricots and a half cup of water over medium heat for 15 minutes or until apricots are tender. Drain the fruit, mix with the apricot preserves, mash with a fork and set aside. In another small pan, heat the prunes and a half cup of water over medium heat for 15 minutes or until prunes are tender. Drain the fruit, mix with 1/4 cup of sugar and set aside.
  3. Whisk the eggs, 3/4 cup of sugar, oil, zest, and lemon juice together in a medium bowl.
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Pour in the egg mixture and knead with your hands until dough comes together. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut circles out using a cookie cutter.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of either the apricot or prune filling in the center of each circle. Wet the edges with water and pinch firmly together to create a triangle, leaving the center open to expose the filling. Repeat with the remaining cookies.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes and serve.