There’s a lot of great things about Boston – one of them being Flour Bakery. Joanne Chang, the owner and brains behind the operation, decided that her degree in Applied Mathematics & Economics from Harvard and thriving consulting career wasn’t making her jump out of bed with excitement every morning, so she decided to pursue her love of cooking. And after spending several years at several jobs as a pastry chef in Boston and NYC, Flour was born – and it’s now one of the best bakeries in Boston (in my opinion anyway!), with three locations throughout the city and it’s very own cookbook! Love inspirational stories of success such as that one!
My first Flour experience was a mixed box of treats – one of them resembling a whoopie pie, one of my all-time favorite desserts. But when I bit into it, it wasn’t in fact a whoopie pie – it was actually an Oreo! Tasting very similar to everyone’s favorite cream filled cookie, but softer and MUCH bigger – bonus!
I’ve been meaning to try these for years now so Christmas was the perfect opportunity to give them a whirl. They took a bit of time to make, primarily because of the chilling time required for the dough, but I’ve always been a firm believer that patience is a virtue 🙂
Homemade Oreo Cookies
*Adapted from Flour Bakery’s Recipe
*yields about 16-18 large oreos
For the Cookie
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 & 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
For the Filling
(this is actually doubled from the original recipe – I prefer Double Stuff if ya know what I mean)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 & 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk or cream
2 Pinches salt
1) In a medium bowl, whisk the butter and the sugar until combined. Whisk in the vanilla and melted chocolate. Add the egg and stir until well blended.
2) In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to blend them. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. The finished dough should feel like Play-Doh. Cover the dough with plastic, and chill for 1 hour.
3) Place the dough on a long sheet of wax or parchment paper. Use your hands to shape it into a rough log, about 10 inches long and 2 & 1/2 inches in diameter. Place the log at the wide edge of the paper and roll it around the log. With your hands on the paper, roll the dough into a tighter log, keeping the diameter the same.
4) Refrigerate the log for at least 2 hours – after 2 hours it should be firm enough to slice without crumbling.
5) Set the oven at 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
6) Remove the dough from the paper. Cut the log into 32 slices, each about 1/4″ – 1/2″ thick. Set them on the baking sheets 1 inch apart.
7) Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, checking them often after 15 minutes, or until they are firm when touched in the center. Let them cool completely on the sheets.
8) In the meantime, prepare the filling – in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on low speed for half a minute. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat until smooth.
9) Beat in the milk and salt. The filling will be somewhat stiff and spackle’ish.
10) Place 2 tablespoons of filling on the flat side of 16 cookies. Press the remaining 16 cookies on the filling, flat sides against the cream, to evenly distribute the filling. Be careful when pressing the top cookie down onto the filling. I found that the stiff texture of the filling caused the top cookie to crack a little when I was pressing it down so just be gentle with it.
11) Store finished cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Safe to say you’ll never go back to store bought after having these puppies 🙂
Coming down off of the Christmas High is like coming down from Prom when you’re in high school – or your wedding day – all the planning, the cooking, the baking, the wrapping, the shopping and then BOOM, it’s over like that. But, the best part is that there’s only 364 more days until we can do it all over again!
Anyway though, I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas – we did a lot of eating, drinking, and traveling (not all in the same order) but it was a fantastic few days spent with family and friends. I’m always sad to see it end, but it was great while it lasted.
Another thing that was done in abundance was BAKING – holy moses. 5 different cookies, which in reality doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re in the throws of flour, sugar, and butter, well you realize that it is in fact a.lot. Some of the usual suspects showed their faces – Easier than Ina’s Pecan Squares & Chocolate Drizzled Macaroons, but a few new players were introduced to the rotation. And even though the Christmas Baking accessories have maybe been put away for the year, these are year-round winners.
I don’t know if I’ve met anyone who doesn’t love a Chocolate Chip Cookie – it seems like they’ve been around since the creation of man, and there’s probably some cave in the arctic that has the recipe chizzled on the walls. But there are many many different versions of this all-time favorite circulating the earth. Back in June, I tried these Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and mmm…they were good. But, anyone whose read this for a bit knows that many a recipe on this blog has been inspired or just flat out stolen from my friend Ashley, and this recipe is another ‘hot’ recipe of hers. We were still rooommates when she first started making these ‘New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies’ and over the years, she has gotten them down to a science, experimenting with ingredients, cooking and dough-chilling times, literally perfecting this cookie. The recipe differs from others in that it uses a combination of cake flour and bread flour vs. the standard all-purpose flour and it also adds the seemingly unlikely touch of salt on the tops of each cookie, which really adds a lot of dimension to the flavor.
They are worth their weight in gold (and whatever weight they add to your hips) 🙂
New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
*Adapted from Jacques Torres & Chef Ashley Rogers
*yields about 20 cookies
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
*If you can’t find Cake Flour like me, this is a great alternative from Joy the Baker to make your own
1 & 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 & 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 & 1/2 sticks (1 & 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 & 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 & 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks, at least 60 percent cacao content
*I used the Ghiradelli 60% Cacoa discs
1) Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2) Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
3) Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and stir them in by hand with a wooden spoon.
4) Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
5) When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
6) Take a 1/4 cup and measure out 6 mounds of dough (1/4 cup each – the size of generous golf balls), roll them into a ball, and place onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie.
7) Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and bake until golden brown on the edges but still soft in the center, about 16 to 18 minutes. Let cookies sit on sheets for a couple of minutes & then slip them onto a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
There were many tips both from the original recipe and from Ash that were useful, but above is exactly how I did them. I think they key with these is experimentation, trying different baking & cooling times, on and off the baking sheet, as well as varying how long you chill the dough. Personally though, I let this dough sit for just about 72 hours based on her recommendation as it allows the flavors to really meld together producing a really rich tasting cookie. And the size of these may be off putting, but if you’re someone who likes a cookie with crunch edges and a soft, chewy interior, than these are your cookie. You could certainly make them smaller though too. Ash originally recommended measuring out 2.5 ounces of dough, but since I didn’t have a food scale I thought 1/4 cup would yield a healthy sized ball of dough and that amount seemed to work really well. Also don’t be alarmed when the cookies come out, as they’ll still look a little undone in the center. That’s what will make the chewy goodness when they’re cooled!
If you go make these now, your dough will be ready just in time for some gigundo NYE Chocolate Chip Cookies! Why would you start your diet now anyway? There’s still a few more days of holiday fun to be enjoyed 🙂
Posted by andtheycookedhappilyeverafter in Christmas, Cookies, Desserts, Holiday Dishes, The Holidays, Uncategorized Tags: Chocolate chip cookie, cookies, Jacques Torres, New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
Last Friday started out like any other day a week and a half before Christmas at Sandy Hook Elementary School – Christmas pageant preparations – final touches on Christmas wish lists to Santa. But it soon turned into a nightmare, a day that changed a community and the lives of 26 families forever, when 6 heroic faculty members and 20 innocent first graders lost their lives to an unspeakable tragedy.
Our hearts are heavy with a wide range of emotions being felt, not just here in New England, but all over the world. That feeling of relief that it didn’t happen in our town, to our family or friends, that we can still hold our loved ones close to us, knowing that they’re safe, contrasts with the feeling of guilt that it wasn’t us who it happened to – that we still can hug and kiss our loved ones whenever we want, and that there are 26 families out there that will never have the chance to do that again. The world can be a scary and confusing place sometimes, and in my 30 years on this planet, this is one of those times where I can’t seem to wrap my head around what has happened to these people, and why – why?
I know that no matter how many tears are shed, and screams of anger and frustration are uttered, it won’t change that they’re gone. But we can honor their memories in so many ways – and that is what these angel cookies are – 26 angel cookies for those 26 angels who were taken from us too soon.
Angel Sugar Cookies
*Adapted from Land O’ Lakes & Peppermint Plum
*this is actually halved from the original recipe and strangely enough, made just about 26 angel cookies. I think it would yield about 2 & 1/2 dozen medium sized sugar cookies though.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted utter
1 cup sugar
1.5 teaspoons. vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 & 3/4 cups flour
Wilton© White Chocolate melting discs
Flipz© White Chocolate Covered Pretzels (2 bags)
Mini Chocolate Chips
Twizzler Pull & Peel Licorice
*Decorating these is obviously your choice! I kept it simple, but you could use different color frosting, sprinkles, get creative!
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) In mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and then the sour cream.
3) In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together the salt, baking soda, and flour, and add to the butter/sugar/egg/sour cream mixture.
3) Roll out on a WELL floured surface to about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick. (this dough is pretty sticky and tough to handle, so make sure you have lots of flour!) These are meant to be nice and thick and chewy so make sure to not roll the dough too thin.
4) First, cut out small circles for the angel heads with either a cookie cutter or you could even use a shot glass as your ‘cutter’ – about the diameter of a tablespoon (that’s what I did). Carefully transfer with a spatula onto one cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Next, with the rest of the dough, cut out the angel bodies. I actually used a gingerbread girl cutter that I had and just cut the arms off. You could also just eye ball a triangle with a knife.
5) Bake these for only about 7-8 minutes. They may still look undone, but that is what will make them chewy and soft, not overcooking them. After 8 minutes, let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes, and then remove them to a wire rack.
6) While the cookies are cooling, you can melt your candy melts in a double boiler. Once the heads have cooled, you can ‘put their faces on’. Dip the tops of the heads in chocolate and then in the sprinkles to make the ‘hair’. Then, I used two mini chocolate chips for the eyes and a small piece of string licorice for the mouth (I used the pull & peel kind, since that’s a bit more pliable than the regular string licorice). Simply dab a small amount of the white chocolate onto the face and then place the eyes and mouth on top. Hold in place for about 30 seconds until the chocolate dries. Get creative with these faces! There’s so many fun things you can do!
7) To assemble the angel bodies, take 2 White Flipz, dip them in the melted chocolate, and then flip the angel body over and adhere them to the back of the cookie, holding for a few seconds to let them stick. This will form the wings. Then, dip the bottoms of each cookie in the melted chocolate and dip in sprinkles. If you have left over chocolate like I did, you can drizzle it over the angel bodies to add some zing. Get creative with this too!
8) Once you have your bodies and heads ready, take the remaining chocolate and smear a dab of it onto the back of the angel head, and then stick it on to the body. Hold it there with your finger to hold in place until it sticks. And there you will have your angels 🙂
Couple Tips for these:
1) I personally thought it was easier to prepare the heads and bodies separately and then stick them together, but you could also put the head on top of the body and bake them together as one cookie, vs. having to assemble them later. Might save you some time.
2) For the mouths, I used the Licorice, however, I would recommend just getting one of those mini tubes of red or pink frosting for the mouth of each angel. Trying to get the licorice to stick was somewhat of a trying process, so I think the frosting would be a lot simpler and look just as cute!
While these were time consuming and a bit of a process, even on a Monday night after a full day of work, I didn’t mind it. It was almost theraputic in a way, watching each little angel come to life. This really is a fantastic sugar cookie recipe though, for any cookie decorating you’re planning to do with the kids. And with these angels, you can really let them get creative with different frosting/sprinkles/hair color/etc. I decided not to add Halos onto these angels, but you could certainly do that as well.
They certainly weren’t the most perfect looking angels in the world – they were different shapes and sizes – some of their eyes were closer together than others – but the same can be said about all the boys and girls that lost their life on Friday – they were all different shapes and sizes with their own personalities and smiles, and as angels, they’ll be just the same 🙂
On summer days when I’d be over playing with my cousins Erin and Jen, he’d come home from work every day at noon on the dot, watch t.v. for a bit, and eat his lunch with one of ten bags of ‘Tri-Sum’ potato chips on top of the fridge. At every holiday, when stocking the fridge or cooler, you’d see at least 1 liter or a few cans of Coke, an Uncle Jimmy necessity. There’s a comfort in people like my Uncle Jim, in their predictability and routine – they make you feel like in this crazy world we live in that changes every hour of every day, that as long as there’s ice-cold Coke in the fridge and potato chips for lunch, than all will be o.k with the world.
But….since he’s retired….he’s gone a little crazy….
…doing things like growing goatees – going to Ireland for bachelor parties and drinking whisky! WITHOUT Coke! And much to my delight, he’s developed a knack for baking, which I discovered at Thanksgiving.
Of 75 desserts on the table, you really need to strategize your plan of attack. But there was one dessert on the table that I noticed was new, not one of the old stand by’s like my Aunt Kathy’s Eclair Ring or my cousin Jen’s picture perfect trifle. These little bite size, ball shaped cookies with chocolate drizzle. I popped one in my mouth, and not only was it delicious, but it had a surprise chocolate kiss interior – and after I ate about 1/2 dozen of them I said “ok, who made these?” And who was the culprit?
Uncle Jim. Who knew?
Now this past weekend, I tried making them for a cookie swap. I followed the recipe to a T and waited with baited breath for them to come out of the oven. But when it was time to take them out, they looked NOTHING like Uncle Jim’s – TASTED nothing like them either – they were a hot mess of cookie, pun intended. Honestly, I have no idea what happened. My theory is that perhaps I chilled the dough for too long (the original recipe called for some chilling time to make the dough easier to handle, which is pretty standard with shortbread recipes) Disappointed was an understatement, because I was so excited to showcase these.
I woke up Sunday morning though, feeling determined to get these right, so I tried AGAIN using a different shortbread recipe, this time not chilling the dough and making a few other changes here and there, and B.I.N.G.O! Success!
*makes about 6 dozen
3 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon extract
3 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bag (13 oz) KISSES® milk chocolates, unwrapped
8 oz. milk chocolate, melted
(about 1/2 bag chocolate chips – I used Trader Joe’s 1lb Milk Chocolate Bar)
1) Preheat oven to 350°F.
2) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the lemon extract.
3) In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.
4) Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and bring everything together with your hands. Take about 1/2 tbsp. of the dough and wrap it around the hershey kiss.
*This step is key, as you really only want enough dough to just cover the hershey kiss. If you use too much dough (which is another mistake I made first time around) the shortbread will flatten out on the bottom, making the finished product look more like little hats instead of balls.
5) Take the dough-wrapped hershey kiss and roll it in between the palms of your hands to form a ball. Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.
6) Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set and bottom edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute then remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely, about 15 minutes on wire racks.
7) Lightly sprinkle cooled cookies with powdered sugar. In a double boiler or microwave, melt the chocolate and drizzle over each cookie.
While being slightly labor intensive, the end result is well worth it as this slightly lemon flavored shortbread has a chocolatey surprise center and the recipe makes a TON, so they’re perfect for gift giving or swapping – 1 batch will make more cookies than you’ll know what to do with!
So thanks for the recipe Uncle Jim! Keep livin’ that ‘crazy’ retired life – it looks good on you 🙂
Posted by andtheycookedhappilyeverafter in Christmas, Cookies, Desserts, Holiday Dishes, The Holidays Tags: Christmas, Christmas Cookies, Cookie, cookie swap, Hershey Kisses, Holiday, Holiday Gifts, Lemon, shortbread
So I just got all the Saltine Toffee Brittle out of my system, so onto the next sweet treat!
Everyone has that one thing that indicates that the holiday season has begun – it could be black friday shopping – putting up your twinkle lights – hanging your stockings by the chimney with care or ornaments on your newly cut christmas tree.
For me, it’s when that one thing I’ve waited for all year dawns the shelves at Trader Joe’s – their Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe’s. And all of a sudden, I’m a kid again on christmas morning who just opened their brand new Nintendo Power Pad! (orrr um….iPad…right…iPad!)
There’s those special treats reserved for the holiday season that never taste quite as good at any other time of year as they do those few weeks leading up to Christmas. And Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe’s are no different – Trader Joe makes them specially (just for me) for the Christmas season, and that alone is what makes them taste soooo good. That and the fact that it’s a combination of 2 of my favorite things on earth – chocolate and cookies.
But, another good thing about them is that they’re easy as pie to make! I mean no offense TJ, but I could whip these bad boys up in no time. And that my friends, is exactly what I’m gonna do.
Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Cookies
*Inspired by Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe’s
*yields about 2 -1/2 dozen
30 (or so) Double Stuff Oreo Cookies or Trader Joe’s Joe Joes (their version of the Oreo)
1 lb. dark chocolate
(I used the Trader Joe’s 1lb Dark Chocolate Bar)
1 tsp. mint extract
6 or 7 large candy canes, crushed
1) Line a wire rack with wax paper and lay out your Oreo cookies.
2) In a double boiler (or in the microwave), temper your chocolate. To temper, take about 2/3 of the chocolate and place it in the double boiler (or microwave-safe dish).
3) When the chocolate starts to really melt, remove it from the heat and add the remaining unmelted chocolate to the pan, stirring constantly until it melts into the melted stuff. The tempering will provide a nice shiny looking chocolate and avoid those unsightly little white spots that can sometimes pop up on chocolate. When the chocolate is just about all melted, you can mix in the mint extract.
4) Place your candy canes in a ziplock bag and with a hammer or the butt of a large knife, crush them into tiny pieces/crumbs and set aside.
5) With a pair of metal tongs, give each cookie a ‘bath’ in the mint chocolate (best.bath.ever), covering it completely with chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip a bit, and then place them back on the wax paper. When all have been ‘bathed’, sprinkle the tops with peppermint crumbles.
For the cost of 1 package of TJ’s version, you could make almost THREE TIMES as many of these yourself in the comfort of your own kitchen!
And then, after you eat about a dozen yourself, making sure they’re just right, wrap them up and give them away – but, make sure you wipe the ‘evidence’ off your chin 🙂
Oh what a week it’s been! I must apologize for the lull in posts – I wish I had a good reason (well I kind of do) After 4 days at home and a shoddy internet connection, I’m back in the office with fully functioning internet (don’t worry HR, I had these posts ready to roll in word docs – psssssh) and it’s lights, camera, BLOG ACTION.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard the name Sandy in the last week or so. Monday afternoon, Hurricane Sandy swept in and caused some serious damage along the eastern seaboard, and while Dave and I and the majority of Boston missed the brunt of the storm, never losing power (at home anyway) and passing the time with ‘hurricane beers’ at our favorite bar down the street, it wasn’t nearly the flooding, damage and devastation that was seen in other areas along the East Coast, so to those of you out there who are just starting the rebuilding process, hang in there!
I had some serious time to toil over recipe options, and don’t cry, but I gave pumpkin and fall themed fun a break and went with the first thing that came to mind – Pecan Sandies – so cliche, I know. She may have been a bitch of a storm, but her namesake cookie is actually pretty tasty 🙂
*Adapted from Allrecipes.com
(Halved from the original recipe – yields about 3 dozen cookies)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup chopped pecans plus extra for the tops of the cookies
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2) In a large bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, white sugar and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla.
3) Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice and stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the pecans.
4) Take 1 tbsp of the dough and roll into balls. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. If you’d like, place a whole pecan in the center of each dough ball.
5) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
I gotta say, these were a tad off. Perhaps it’s cuz’ I halved the recipe. Or that the original called for cream of tartar, which I didn’t have, and after doing some research online, it seemed as though if I left it out, it wouldn’t make a huge difference. I added the pumpkin pie spice hoping to add some fall flare, but I think I would have needed maybe a tablespoon or 2 of it vs. just 1. I think the bottom line is that I’m just more of a straight up chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven kind of gal. But if you’re into pecans, give these a try!
I hope everyone is safe and taking things one day at a time – and to Hurricane Sandy – thanks for the unexpected vaca 🙂