Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category
Vinegar pops up in some baked goods as a quick and easy way to add an acid to a recipe, allowing a leavening agent like baking soda to get a little extra lift when added to a batter. Vinegar is rarely used as a flavoring agent and in the recipes that call for it, you can almost never taste it in the finished product. These cookies are an exception to that general rule because they use balsamic vinegar to add an extra tangy sweetness to a fudgy chocolate cookie.
I adapted a basic cookie recipe that which originally came from Alice Medrich recipe and has been a favorite of mine for years. The cookie itself is slightly chewy and tender, with a great dark chocolate flavor to it. The dark chocolate flavor comes from a generous amount of cocoa powder in the cookie, as well as some tangy plain yogurt in the cookie dough. I added some balsamic vinegar to the dough in addition to the yogurt this time around. I used a very syrupy, sweet Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar that a friend shared with me recently. It added a little extra depth of flavor to the cookies and a hint of fruitiness, without making the cookies taste like vinegar.
I’ve used balsamic vinegar in the past to highlight the sweetness of fresh berries, as the acidity of the vinegar (and the underlying sweetness of most balsamics) serves to highlight the natural sugars in berries. To play off the sweet-tart vinegar even more in this recipe, I marinated some dried cherries in a bit of vinegar before adding them to the cookie dough. Pick a sweet, syrupy balsamic vinegar that you like the flavor of for this recipe. The vinegar doesn’t come close to dominating the chocolate, but you’ll get a better result when you start with ingredients that you like on their own.
This is a cookie that will appease both peanut butter lovers and chocolate chip fans: a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. You can certainly throw a handful of chocolate chips into just about any peanut butter cookie dough (or dip the cookies in chocolate!) to get this flavor combination, but peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip cookies have different textures to them and this cookie delivers something encompasses elements of both types.
The cookies are big and tender, with a hint of crispiness on the edges and a slight chewiness to them that is more like a chocolate chip cookie than a straight peanut butter one. They don’t have an overly strong peanut butter flavor to them and I like to use crunchy peanut butter to get the addition of little pieces of peanut in the finished cookies. Smooth peanut butter will work just as well. I used a national brand (JIF, to be specific) but these cookies should work out well with natural peanut butter, too. If you are using unsalted peanut butter, you may want to increase the salt in the cookies by 1/4 teaspoon to highlight the peanut butter flavor a bit more.
These cookies keep very well and are a great change of pace from your average peanut butter cookie. I like dark chocolate chips in these, but milk chocolate chips also really compliment the peanut butter flavor of the cookies and will sweeten things up just a little bit. To really take a batch of these cookies over-the-top with peanut butter and chocolate, keep an eye out for mini peanut butter cups (Trader Joe’s carries them) and mix those in along with the chocolate chips.
Macaroons are probably one of the easiest cookies that you can make. Mine are made with just egg whites, sugar and shredded coconut, with a little bit of vanilla extract (or some other flavoring) thrown in for good measure. I’ll make them just about any time that I have an unused bag of coconut lying around, and I’ll also make them when I need an easy to make dessert for get-togethers. The cookies are sweet enough to be satisfying and have a great coconut flavor to them.
One trick I use to get a good consistency to my macaroons is to run a chefs knife through the shredded coconut before I use it. This breaks up some of the long strands of coconut and ensures that you get a macaroon that doesn’t fall apart when you bite into it. You can really finely chop the coconut, too, but I prefer to keep some of the texture of the shredded coconut and go for more of a rough chop. The cookies can be shaped into round balls before baking, or patted into different shapes (I am a fan of little pyramids) before baking.
Macaroons are good plain, but you can easily dress them up by dipping the cooled cookies into some melted chocolate – dark, milk and white chocolate are all good choices – and placing them on a sheet of wax paper to firm up before serving. These are very good when they are fresh, but keep extremely well in an airtight container and become even more moist and chewy after a day or two.
There are many different recipes for shortbread out there, and I have to say that I like most of them. Who could resist such a buttery treat? Walkers Shortbread is one of my favorites. I like the tender, but not crumbly, consistency of the shortbread and the way that it seems to melt in your mouth when you eat it. It is also very satisfying to eat for something so small. I wanted to make something as similar as possible to that classic Scottish shortbread at home and with the help of the ingredients list on the back of some of my favorite brands, I began to experiment.
This shortbread recipe is very simple and uses just flour, sugar, butter and a little bit of salt. I wanted the shortbread to have a tender, melt in your mouth texture and this recipe delivers exactly that. The shortbread have a wonderful consistency and a very buttery flavor, with just a hint of sweetness that makes them satisfying. The key to getting a sandy texture in the shortbread is to use quite a bit of butter and blend it into the flour very well, so only very tiny pieces remain. Unlike a pie crust, you don’t want your shortbread to be flaky. Instead, you want it to have a very uniform consistency. The best way to mix up the dough is in the food processor, but if you have a little patience you can also rub in the butter by hand.
Score the shortbread dough with a sharp knife before baking. You will need to cut it as soon as it comes out of the oven, while it is still hot, so you get clean slices. It is best to cut the shortbread into small pieces because it is rich and having smaller pieces will make it last longer. This shortbread keeps well can can be made in advance, and stored in an airtight container for at least a few days.
You might be more likely to think of chocolate chips than of cereal when you’re going to do some baking, but cereal actually works well in many different types of recipes. For instance, it adds a nice crunch in Cornflake Cookies, some extra flavor in Honey Graham Chocolate Chip Cookies and a cereal treat flavor in Rice Krispy Treat Scones. In this case, I used some Raisin Bran cereal to add fiber and flavor to a batch of Raisin Bran Spice Cookies. Think of them as oatmeal raisin cookies, with a twist.
The cookies are easy to make and have cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg in the dough to give them a little bit of a flavor boost. Although you might not think of bran as having a strong flavor, the fact that the bran in these cookies comes from flaked cereal means that it has a rich toasted flavor that actually gives the cookies a lot of depth. There are already some raisins in the cereal (feel free to use another bran cereal and add in raisins, though), but more raisins add additional sweetness and texture to the finished cookies. I definitely felt good about eating these and will admit to having one or two with breakfast – it was cereal, after all!
While these cookies are good when they first come out of the oven, they actually seem to improve with age. The flavors meld more and the cookies stay nice and tender, so they’re a great cookie to make a big batch of over the weekend and store in an airtight container for snacking during the week.