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cookies

Baking

Orange Nutella Alfajores

raw dough for orange nutella alfajores

I have been wanting to make alfajores cookies for a very long time. Their common description of being a melt-in-the-mouth cookie sandwiched together with dulce de leche just seemed heavenly. And they are.

Alfajores Cookies are one of the simplest cookies to make. They are made from just a handful of ingredients; flour, cornstarch, butter, sugar and egg. And they are ready in a jiffy.

The first batch I made was a regular cookie with dulce de leche inbetween. But with Valentine’s Day coming up, I wanted a chocolate filling. I added orange zest to the cookie dough, sandwiched them together with Nutella, and Orange Nutella Alfajores were born. And I must say it is a heavenly match.

You can use store-bought Nutella. Or if you have time, make your own. It’s divine.

Alfajores cookies have been popular in Uruguay, Peru and Argentina since the mid 1800’s. Common fillings in alfajores are dulce de leche, chocolate mousse, fruit or cream. Toppings include meringue coating, milk chocolate, coconut or a sugar glaze.

The word alfajor comes from the arabic al-hasu, which means filled or stuffed. Culinary experts have traced Alfajores to Andalusia, Spain during the occupation by the Moors. There is a strong similarity between alfajores and mamoul, a buttery confection filled with date paste that is popular in the Middle East and North Africa.

orange nutella alfajores

Alfajores are so popular in Peru and Argentina, that there are chain restaurants that only sell alfajores. Casa del alfajor is one such chain in Peru. And Havanna, in Argentina, which has been around since 1947.

Try making a batch. You will love them!

Orange Nutella Alfajores

Print Recipe
Serves: 18

Ingredients

  • 200 gram flour
  • 300 gram corn starch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 250 grams softened butter
  • 150 grams sugar
  • 3 3gg yolks
  • 1 T brandy
  • zest from one orange
  • nutella (store bought or my own - see above)

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

3

Mix together flour, corn starch and baking powder and soda.

4

Cream together butter, sugar and orange zest for 5 minutes, until pale and fluffy.

5

Add the egg yolks and brandy to the butter mixture.

6

Add in the flour mixture.

7

Mix briefly until well incorporated.

8

Roll out dough until about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out cookies with cutter about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

9

You can place them relatively close together, as they will not spread.

10

Bake for about 10 minutes, only until slightly golden around the edges.

11

Cool on baking tray for 5 minutes, then place them on a cookie rack to cool.

12

Sandwich them together, when they are cold, with nutella.

 

Baking

Festive Mocha, Almond, Brandy Strazzate

Mocha, Almond, Brandy Strazzate

Christmas Cookie baking has begun! I started my baking season with these Vegan Mocha, Almond, Brandy Strazzate. This cookie is normally made with Strega, a herbal liqueur from the Basilicata Region of Italy, which supposedly goes really well with chocolate. That liqueur is difficult to find where I live, so I used brandy, which I always have on hand this time of year., and which also works well with the mocha, almond flavours in this cookie.  This is a super delicious cookie, made without eggs or butter.

 

Mocha, Almond, Brandy StrazzateI woke up the other morning to this snowy site and decided it was the perfect day to begin my Christmas Baking.

Mocha, Almond, Brandy Strazzate

It’s never too early to start baking Christmas cookies or playing around with Christmas lights: two of my favourite winter activities.

These Mocha Almond Brandy Strazzate cookies come together very quickly. And the taste is divine. A cookie dough made with cocoa powder and chocolate chips so you get chocolate goodness in every bite. The dough also contains ground almonds + chopped almonds – double goodness again! And the espresso coffee blends with the chocolate to create than umami mocha flavour that is so powerful.

Like I mentioned above, this cookie is traditionally made in the Basilicata Region of Italy where Strega is made. I think any liqueur/liquor that goes with mocha and almonds would work. If you don’t drink alcohol, try a strong spiced herbal tea or chai. Those would work too.

Mocha, Almond, Brandy Strazzate

You can eat them plain, or sprinkled with some icing sugar. So tasty. Make a splash with your Christmas Baking this year. Try something new.

Mocha, Almond, Brandy Strazzate

Print Recipe
Serves: 16 Cooking Time: 30

Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp finely ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped almonds
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp white flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 2 tsp espresso powder, dissolved in 1/4 c. boiling water

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2

Mix together the ground almonds, chopped almonds, flour, brown sugar, chocolate chips and cocoa powder and olive oil.

3

Dissolve the baking powder in 2 teaspoons of hot water.

4

Add baking powder solution, coffee, and liqueur.

5

Give it all a good brisk stir. The dough will be very wet.

6

Form into 30 gram balls (or 1 ounce).

7

Place on parchment paper about 1 inch apart.

8

Bake in oven for 30 minutes, until dried out and set. The bottom will be slightly golden.

9

After 30 minutes, remove from oven.

10

Let dry on baking tray for 2-3 minutes.

11

Remove from baking tray to cool on a rack.

12

Enjoy!

Notes

These cookies will keep in a coo, dry place or 3-5 days. Or you can freeze them for up to one month.

Recipe slightly adapted from Saveur Magazine February 4, 2013.

Baking

Mocha Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies Recipe

mocha-chocolate-chip-cookies-with-red-ribbon

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought I would post this fantastic recipe for Mocha Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies. They are super chocolate-y and the espresso powder gives them a great oomph of flavour. And what could be a better gift for someone than a bunch of cookies all bundled up in red ribbon. These Valentine Day Mocha Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies would be a nice surprise in your partner’s lunch box, a sensational gift for your son or daughter’s teacher, or put some out on the table after dinner at home. Sweet Sensation!

I really love cookies. I love them for many different reasons: the endless flavours and varieties, they’re quick to make, they’re not very big but hit the spot without breaking the calorie bank and they are ubiquitous. Every culture makes cookies.

When I was little, my mom only made three types of cookies: sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies with raisins and oatmeal cookies that came from a package (all you had to do was add water and an egg). She never used a timer and always set the oven at 350 ° F. And, unlike my Mum’s Date and Oat Squares, my mom couldn’t finish a chapter of her book in the time it took to bake some cookies. So, we had our fair share of burnt cookies.

There are far too many varieties of cookies out there these days, for me to only make three types of cookies. So, my family is lucky in that way. I love trying new recipes. I made these Mocha Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies recently and they were a hit with everyone. They didn’t last long.

It doesn’t take very long to put together a batch of cookies, but, in order to do it properly, you do need to follow a few basic techniques.

  • make sure all of your cookies are the same size (I weigh mine. And most of the cookies that I make weigh between 30-35 grams)
  • use a timer (a kitchen timer, your microwave, your stove or your iphone)
  • cookies are done when they are dry on top and just a hint of golden brown on the bottom (to check if they are ready to come out of the oven, flip one over onto your oven-mitted hand and see if it has turned golden)
  • after you take the cookies out of the oven, place the cookie tray on rack for 1-5 minutes. The cookies will continue to cook. After that time (the recipe usually states how long to cool on the tray) place them directly on a rack to cool. They will firm up quite a bit.
  • almost all cookie doughs freeze very well (before they are baked).
  • I quite often will make some cookie dough, shape it into a flat disc, and freeze until I’m ready to bake the cookies. Let the dough thaw overnight in the fridge and then the next day, form into cookies and bake as usual.
  • You can also shape the cookie dough into cookies and freeze on a flat tray until hard, and then place in a ziplock bag. Bake the cookies from frozen (add 1-2 minutes to baking time).

 

stack of mocha-chocolate-chip-oat-cookies

Mocha Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

Print Recipe
Serves: 36-40 Cooking Time: 9-10

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/4 cups quick oats
  • 1/2 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (dark or semi-sweet)

Instructions

1

Beat softened butter with sugars until light and fluffy.

2

Add eggs one at a time.

3

Dissolve espresso powder in the vanilla. Add to the egg/sugar mixture.

4

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, oats, baking powder and baking soda.

5

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix gently until combined.

6

Stir in chocolate chips

7

Weigh out approximately 35 grams of cookie dough. Roll it into a ball and place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

8

Baking in 375 ° oven for 9-10 minutes until dry on top and slightly golden underneath.

9

Remove from oven, place on wire rack for 1 minute. Remove cookies from tray and place directly on rack to cool.

10

Makes about 36-40 cookies.

Baking

Brown Butter Finnish Spoon Cookies with Lingonberry Jam Recipe

finnish spoon cookies on plate

 

I made these Brown Butter Finnish Spoon Cookies a few weeks ago to whet everyone’s appetite for the avalanche of christmas cookies soon to be upon us. Cookies are great any time of year, but at Christmas I like to bake up recipes that have that extra ‘wow’ factor. A lot of christmas cookies have special ingredients such as chocolate, macadamia nuts, toasted coconut or icing and sprinkles. The extra ingredient in these cookies is the browned butter. More of a mystery ingredient than extra fancy, the browned butter lends a smooth, nutty aroma to the cookie dough but without the nuts: guests will wonder what that secret ingredient is.  They have a texture resminiscent of shortbread and the lingonberry jam in the middle contrasts nicely to the smoothness of the browned butter flavour in the cookie.

If you have never made browned butter before, here are some photos to help guide you.

two sticks of butter melting in a pan
Add  two sticks of butter to a medium hot pan and let them melt.
melted butter in a pan
After all the butter has melted it will start to foam up.
golden melted butter
After the butter has foamed up, it will settle down and start to turn a golden colour. Take it off the heat as soon as the butter is a deep golden colour and the bits on the bottom are brown. If you wait too long, they will burn very quickly.
browned butter in a bowl
This is how the browned butter should look after it is poured out of the pan

The recipe for these cookies comes from Toronto Cooks by Amy Rosen.  My eldest son, Max, bought this book for me for Mother’s Day last year.  Everyone in my family knows how much I love cookbooks. I have about 200 on my shelves now, most of them gifts from my husband. Max thought that I would enjoy a cookbook filled with recipes from the many fine restaurants in the city where I grew up. And he was right. This book is also special to me as it’s the first cookbook he ever bought for me.

Max and I share a love for Scandinavia so this Finnish cookie recipe caught my eye straight away and was the first recipe I tried.  The raw dough has such an amazing aroma, I’m surprised it made it into the oven. I made my cookies a bit larger than the recipe instructed, so I only made about 20 filled cookies, and they are a bit larger than the original recipe.

Forming the dough on the teaspoon is just slightly tricky, but take your time, don’t rush and they will turn out beautifully.

They’re scrumptious! Hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

finnish spoon cookies on plate on napkin

Brown Butter Finnish Spoon Cookies with Lingonberry Jam

Print Recipe
Serves: 40 Cooking Time: 10-12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup superfine (caster) sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup lingonberry jam
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2

In a heavy-bottom saucepan or skillet, melt the butter until it foams up and then begins to brown and smells nutty. This takes about 10 minutes. Keep your eye on it, and don't let it burn.

3

Pour into a bowl and let it cool for about 20 minutes.

4

In another medium sized bowl, stir together flour and baking soda.

5

Once the browned butter has cooled, add the sugar and vanilla and stir until combined evenly. Add the dry ingredients to this bowl and stir until combined. Cover and set aside on the counter for 30 minutes.

6

To make the cookies, press some of the dough into a dessert spoon. Level the top off with a knife. Slide the dough off the spoon. Reshape with your hands, if needed, as the dough can be a bit crumbly. Place flatter side down on the cookie tray.

7

Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned and set. These cookies do not brown very much, so keep an eye on them and take them out of the oven when the cookies seem dry and set.

8

Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer them to a cookie rack to cool completely.

9

Spread lingonberry jam or another jam on the flat side of one cookie. Then place another cookie on top. Sprinkle with icing sugar.

10

Store these cookies in an airtight container for about 1 week. But they wont' last that long. They're too goodl

While the cookies were baking I went outside to photograph some flowers in my garden on one of the last sunny warm days of fall.

orange gerber flowerOrange Gerber in November