Free Range Nurse

Cooking therapy from a former travel nurse

Versatile Chocolate Cookie Dough May 29, 2010

Filed under: chocolate,cookies,dessert — freerangenurse @ 7:19 am

How much do you love chocolate?  If you are like most, chocolate ranks high on the dessert wish list.  Of course there’s the common chocolate chip cookie to nibble on, but really think about it.  How much of the chocolate flavor comes through?  The sweetness of most chocolate chip cookies easily over-powers the flavor of even the most intense chocolate chip.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good chocolate chunk cookie, but if you want to really taste chocolate, then this is the cookie for you….or rather, these are the cookies for you.

I found this/these recipes in Fine Cooking Magazine.  Yes, the same magazine that gave me this, and this.  This particular edition was dedicated to chocolate, every recipe – oh yes, and there are many recipes in the magazine.  It was a little difficult to know where to start, but I decided to start here and honestly, I haven’t moved on yet.  I have made this recipe four or five times already, wowing my coworkers with these intensely chocolate-y cookies.  What is more impressive is how different they are from one another, even though the base recipe is identical.

The chocolate wafers are thin and crisp and are an excellent coffee companion, have great dunkability in milk and would love a delicious coating of chocolate ganache or perhaps even a smear of Bailey’s infused cream.  They are a snap to make, store beautifully in the fridge until ready to cut and bake (just like those less than desirable store bought slice and bake cookie doughs).

The second version (my favorite) are thick and chewy, have a totally different texture, and while possessing the same intense chocolate taste, have a little added complexity with the addition of cherries, chocolate chunks and nuts.  Like their simpler counterparts, they also hold up well to a dip in the milk pool.  They could easily be made with different fruit/nut combos, or even have the fruit omitted.  They are your cookies, it is your dough, change the supporting cast and still end up with a winner.

Let me know what you changed and how you made this your own cookie.

Basic Cocoa Cookie Dough

recipe from Fine Cooking,

  • 2 1/4 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons (3 3/8 oz) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/8 tsp baking soda
  • 3/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Using a food processor, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Pulse several times to thoroughly combine.  Add softened butter and pulse to combine.  Combine the milk and vanilla in a bowl.  With the food processor running, add milk mixture and continue to process until the dough clumps around the blade.  Note, this can also be made in a mixer.  Once mixed, transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead to make sure all ingredients are combined.

From here you can take this dough in any direction you want to go.  You can form the dough into a log, wrap it in wax paper and chill it in the refrigerator for about an hour, then slice into 1/4 inch slices and bake it at 350 for 12-15 minutes.  This will make the intensely chocolate, crisp wafer cookies….or, you can take it further.

For Cherry Chocolate Cookies:

  • 1 batch of cocoa cookie dough
  • 2 cups toasted chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts)
  • 1 1/2 cup chocolate chunks (about 9 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped)
  • 9 ounces (about 1 1/2 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped

Mix all ingredients using a stand mixer until well combined.  Drop tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-14 minutes until the cookies are dry to the touch and slightly soft when pushed with your finger.  Cool cookies on a rack.  Store at room temperature in an airtight container….if you have any left.

 

Urban Legend Cookies April 12, 2010

Filed under: chocolate,cookies,dessert — freerangenurse @ 10:43 am

Did you ever hear the story of the Nieman Marcus cookie?  Supposedly a woman dined at the Nieman Marcus Cafe and had their chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  She enjoyed the cookies so much, she asked the waiter for a recipe and was told they could sell it to her for two-fifty.  She agreed and then upon receiving her credit  card statement, was horrified to find out that she was billed $250.00 for the recipe.  She called the store to dispute the charge, but was told, essentially, too bad, no refunds.  Disgruntled and bent on revenge, she distributed the recipe to everyone she knew to prevent anyone else from being duped into purchasing the recipe. (more…)

 

A tale of two cookies November 12, 2009

Filed under: cookies,dessert — freerangenurse @ 9:41 am

Cherry Vanilla ShortbreadI have had the ingredients for a few days now, imported Danish butter, almond extract, dried cherries, vanilla bean paste, but I just couldn’t get myself excited about baking them until today.  Now that I have, I wonder what took me so long!  What am I talking about, you ask?  Shortbread cookies.  Buttery, delicate, delicious shortbread cookies.  The sweet scent is filling my home and let me tell you, the candle companies ain’t got nothing on this smell!

I made some chocolate cherry almond oatmeal cookies last week for my coworkers.  That is, I made them because I wanted to create a cookie with some flavors I like, but as usual, I made entirely too much and my coworkers reaped the benefits.  I liked the cookies, but felt that the oatmeal was a bit strong and thought a butter cookie or shortbread would be a better fit.

Last night after facing my mortality with the tequila shrimp, I decided to go ahead and make the cookie dough.  Scanning the web, I came across several variations of basic shortbread dough.  Essentially, they are all very similar, but two caught my eye.  The first is from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  The only change I made was adding almond extract in place of the vanilla.  The second recipe was found on the Joy of Baking website.  I tweaked that recipe by adding chopped dried cherries and subbing vanilla bean paste for the vanilla extract.

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Both tasted great.  My favorite was the cherry vanilla, Sydney loved the almond, John loved them both equally, so I guess it’s a tie.  The Joy of Baking was definitely easier to work with.

I also dipped some of both recipes in chocolate and while they were tasty, I felt it was too strong for these cookies.  I wish I had some to share, but I think if I tried to take them out of this house, my husband might divorce me.

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Vanilla Cherry Shortbread

(adapted from The Joy of Baking)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (better butter = better flavor)
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I use vanilla bean paste for the visible flecks of vanilla)
  • 1/2 cup of dried cherries, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350∘F with the rack in the middle of the oven.

In a separate bowl, whisk flour and salt, set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth (about 1 minute).  Add the sugar and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes).  Beat  in the vanilla paste.  Gently stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated.  Add chopped cherries and mix until incorporated.  Flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for at least an hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into rounds or whatever shape you wish using a lightly floured cookie cutter.  Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.  This will firm up the dough so the cookies will maintain their shape when baked.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly brown (it is important to achieve the light brown color because it makes the butter flavor more pronounced).  Cool on rack.

Shortbread will keep in an airtight container for about a week or frozen for several months.

Makes about 20 cookies.

Almond Shortbread

(adapted from Ina Garten)

  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling (I use sanding sugar for sprinkling)
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined.  Add the almond extract.  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.  Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut into desired shape.  Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sanding sugar.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

double boiler

If you’d like yours dipped in chocolate, melt the chocolate in a double boiler (a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl and that there is absolutely no water in the inside of the bowl).  Stir the chocolate as it melts, then place it on a plate and place each cookie in the shallow chocolate, flat side down, gently remove and place upside down on parchment paper to cool.  You can speed this up by placing dipped cookies in the refrigerator.