Friday, April 21, 2017

Bourbon Soaked Cherry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies



I was looking for cake recipes the other day, and as sometimes happens, my husband goes looking and sends me a list of links for recipes. He usually picks some good things, even if they are not what I am looking for at that point in time. Along with a couple of cake recipes, he included some cookies recipes, as I am always looking for new cookie recipes. In this case, one of the cookie recipes he sent was for these bourbon-cherry-oat-chocolate-chip cookies.

Looking at this recipe, which at times feels like it contains everything but the kitchen sink, it really is a fall recipe. Bourbon, maple syrup, cinnamon, and molasses scream fall. Oatmeal cookies are hearty and comforting and perfect for a crisp fall day. While it is spring, it’s been super rainy here, so somehow a fall recipe doesn’t feel so out of place.

I decided to make these cookies dairy free, so that my friend at work (who is a big bourbon fan) could enjoy these. I used shortening and made sure to use dairy free chocolate chips. It’s easy to forget that dairy is found in many other ingredients so I must be careful. I also left out the coconut, as with all the other ingredients it was not needed. These cookies made the house smell fantastic! The bourbon flavor is very pleasant, but you don’t get the bite of the alcohol. I really liked these, the hearty oatmeal cookie with the flavor of bourbon and the sweetness of the chocolate and dried cherries.

Bourbon Soaked Cherry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup bourbon
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening or butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons molasses
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips

In a small bowl, combine the dried cherries and bourbon. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat the shortening and brown sugar on medium until light. Add the maple syrup and molasses and beat on medium to combine. Add the egg and vanilla and stir on low until combined.

Add half of the flour, mix on low, and add the remaining flour, mixing on low just until combined. Add the oats, dried cherries (and any liquid), and the chocolate chips. Stir to incorporate; you may need to finish mixing by hand.

Scoop the dough onto the baking sheet, using about 1-1/2 tablespoons dough for each cookie.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until set and barely golden along the edges. Do not over bake, the cookies will firm up as they cool.  

Recipe from How Sweet It Is

Friday, April 14, 2017

Toasted Coconut White Chocolate Macadamia Bars



I go through spurts where I bake a lot with macadamia nuts, then go a long time without using them. My great friend often travels to Hawaii and brings me back macadamias! She has just returned from a trip and I had these bars set aside for when I had some macadamias on hand. They are just perfect for our local weather, too. They are springy, as it is spring, and they are also comforting. Great with the super rainy weather we’ve had all winter and spring.

Some folks don’t like white chocolate, but I find it to be particularly good with macadamias. The sweetness of the white chocolate pairs well with the buttery flavor of macadamias. Throw some toasted coconut into the mix and it makes for a very buttery, nutty bar. Sometimes when recipes call for coconut to be toasted, I don’t bother. Don’t skip it in these bars, it really adds a lot.

These are a quick and easy bar cookie, although toasting the coconut and chopping the nuts takes a couple of extra minutes. The original recipe called for melted butter and I used room temperature butter, which worked very well. The white chocolate chips that melt and make the “frosting” is just a thin layer. Too much more and it would be too sweet. I baked these a day ahead and then cut them the next, and that worked great. They seem to stay fresh, although as I’ve said before, that’s not usually a problem that I have to worry about!

Toasted Coconut White Chocolate Macadamia Bars
1 ½ cups shredded coconut
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped   
1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup white chocolate chips
⅓ cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Place the coconut on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large mixer bowl combine the butter and brown sugar. Mix on medium until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla and mix on medium until incorporated. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture. Stir in the toasted coconut, 1 cup macadamia nuts and 1 cup of white chocolate chips. Mix just until incorporated. Spread the dough into the prepared pan. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned and a thin knife inserted in the center of the bars comes out clean.

As soon as the bars come out of the oven, sprinkle 1 cup of white chocolate chips on the bars. Allow to set 5 minutes and then spread the chocolate in a smooth layer. Sprinkle with the 1/3 macadamia nuts. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

Recipe from Food, Folks, and Fun

Friday, April 7, 2017

Chocolate Salted Caramel Pretzel Cookies



I traveled this week for a conference, and since I have been home, I’ve been very confused about what day of the week it is! I was in Texas, with record high heat, and came home to the Seattle area, where we have had record rainfall. While it was too hot for me in Texas, the sunny days were nice. If I were still in the sunny weather, I would pick something to bake that was more indicative of the spring season. But here are home, a chocolate decadent cookie seemed appropriate.

When I first came across this recipe, I thought I had all the ingredients except pretzels, which if worse came to worst, I could buy in the cafeteria at work. I had caramel bits on hand, and would normally substitute those for caramel squares, but upon closer inspection I realized that you molded the cookie dough around the caramel center. Otherwise you would have melted caramel bits all over your cookie sheet. You could try to mold the dough around several caramel bits, but that would be decidedly tricky.

I have made different cookies where you mold the dough around some sort of filling (Rolos, candy bars, etc.) and I have to say this is the first time that I had no blow outs due to exposed caramel filling! It takes a bit of patience to mold the dough around the caramels, as the dough has these awkward pretzels in them! There is plenty of dough, so I didn’t have much trouble in the end. You don’t want to bake these too long and make the caramel hard, so error on the side of under baked. I just decided 11 minutes was enough time and they were fine. These cookies are best when a bit warm and still gooey, but they are still tasty when cooled, too.

Chocolate Salted Caramel Pretzel Cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped pretzels
1 cup chocolate chips
Kraft caramels, cut in half (about 24)
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture. Stir in the pretzel pieces and the chocolate chips. You may need to do the last bit of mixing by hand.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, using 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie. Place half of a caramel on the dough ball and work the dough around the caramel to seal the caramel in. Sprinkle the cookies with salt.

Bake for 10-11 minutes, until the cookies look set and are cracked along the top. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.