Archive for Cookies

Terra Chip Cookies

I’m always disappointed when I open a new bag of potato chips, hear the air rush out, and discover that it’s only half full. Once I finish the few unblemished chips, I’m left with a pool of crumbs on the bottom. Most often I shake the bag and spitefully throw it away.

Not anymore. Crushed chips actually make tasty cookies! The promise of sweet and salty, plus a hint of the bizarre prompted me to try a potato chip cookie recipe from Real Simple magazine. These cookies are reminiscent of pecan sandies and snickerdoodles. When fresh, they’re delicately crisp like shortbread. After a couple days, they get chewy but remain delicious for weeks.

I upgraded these cookies by using leftover Terra chips, a mixture of taro, sweet potato, yuca, batata and parsnips. I imagine tortilla chips would work too. Any nut can also be used; I substituted hazelnuts. I also omitted about 1/3 of the butter (the original recipe called for two sticks) to no ill effect.

 

potato chip cookies

Terra Chip Cookies
Inspired by Nancy Myers’ recipe in Real Simple, May 2005

1 stick plus 3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup more for coating
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup Terra, potato or tortilla chips, crushed
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt (only add if using low-sodium chips)

Preheat oven to 375° F. Cream the butter and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. Lower to medium speed and add the vanilla. Add the flour, cinnamon and salt (if using) to the butter mixture. Beat on low speed until incorporated. Fold in the chips and nuts. Form into approximately 1 1/2-inch balls. Dredge in the remaining sugar. Flatten with the bottom of a glass cup. Place on foil-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 13 minutes. Cool completely on sheets.

Yield: Makes 2 1/2 dozen

NUTRITION PER SERVING (from full fat recipe)
CALORIES 138(54% from fat); FAT 8g (sat 4g); PROTEIN 1mg; CHOLESTEROL 16mg; CALCIUM 6mg; SODIUM 18mg; FIBER 1g; CARBOHYDRATE 15g; IRON 1mg

Notes:
When lightening a cookie recipe, you may remove up to half of the fat. Because cookies depend on butter for crispness and chewiness, I don’t recommend replacing the fat with anything. Fruit purées like applesauce will make the cookie cakey and gummy. Just leave out the fat: most recipes have plenty already!

This recipe is a variant of the Earl Grey tea cookies that have popped up in IMBB 17: Taste Tea and Blogging by Mail 2. The Earl Grey cookies use 1/2 cup each of granulated and powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp tea leaves pulverized with the dry ingredients, and no cinnamon. They are the slice-and-bake variety.

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IMBB 17: GreenTea Biscotti


It’s that time of month again: Is My Blog Burning, in which bloggers around the world cook around a common theme. This time, Clement of A la Cuisine! has chosen tea as the themed ingredient.

I developed this recipe for Mariko of Super Eggplant, who loves green tea. You see, I sent her a care package for Blogging by Mail. Two events collide in one day!

I took a trusty chocolate chip biscotti recipe from Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts, added green tea leaves, and swapped the semisweet chocolate with white chocolate, since green tea has a delicate flavor. Going with the white theme, I also substituted mild almonds for the walnuts.

Be sure to use white chocolate that lists cocoa butter as the main ingredient. In cheap brands, partially hydrogenated oil poses as white chocolate. And you wonder why most people don’t like white chocolate! Would you substitute brown-colored vegetable shortening for dark chocolate? I don’t think so. Use the real stuff!

These low-fat biscotti become wonderfully fragrant a day after baking. They are delightfully crunchy but not jaw-breakingly hard, if you don’t overbake them.

Green Tea Biscotti
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts
Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp pulverized green tea leaves, from about 3 tea bags
2 eggs
3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp brewed green tea
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds (optional)
2/3 cup white chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line the baking sheet with greased foil.
  2. Place the flour, baking soda, salt, and tea leaves in a small bowl. Stir with a whisk to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar, vanilla, and brewed tea until well combined. Beat in the flour just until combined. Stir in the nuts and white chocolate chips. The mixture will be thick and sticky.
  4. Use a large spoon to scoop the batter onto the baking sheet, dividing it evenly into 3 long, skinny, rope-shape loaves, each one foot long, or 2 loaves 16 to 17 inches long, depending on your baking sheet. The loaves must be 2 1/2 inches apart. You’ll get slightly messy. Use the back of the spoon or a spatula to even up the “loaves” and neaten the edges. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes on the pan. Leave the oven turned on.
  5. Carefully peel the loaves from the foil and transfer them to a cutting board. Use a sharp serrated knife to slice the loaves diagonally into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange the slices directly on the oven racks. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cookies are crisp and dry. Or arrange the cookies on 2 baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and back to front about halfway through the baking time. Turn cookies over and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets as before.
  6. Cool biscotti completely before storing. They become more tender about 2 or 3 days stored in an airtight container. They keep for several weeks.

Notes:
This is a developing recipe, and the tea flavor, although present, is not as strong as I would like. Any ideas for improvement? I can’t add more brewed tea, or else the dough will be too sticky. There’s only so much you can do to concentrate the tea: you can’t brew three bags in 2 tablespoons of water.

Using matcha (green tea powder) rather than leaves may concentrate the flavor. From what I’ve researched, 1/2 Tbsp matcha = 1 Tbsp tea leaves.

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Blondies have more fun

Now for a deep philosophical question: is a brownie still a brownie without the chocolate? No, in that case it would be a blondie. These bars are perfect when you’re craving the dense and chewy texture of a brownie but don’t want chocolate. Yes, a girl can get sick of chocolate after ingesting too much chocolate mousse. I lightened the recipe by using 5 tbsp of butter rather than a whole stick. These bars have plenty of fat from the almonds, so they were still wonderfully moist, although they might not keep as long. But do you really expect to have them laying around for a whole week? They even develop the characteristic skin you get from boxed brownie mix, except these don’t have nasty-tasting artificial ingredients.

Fruity Almond Blondies
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Cookies and Brownies

Ingredients:
3/4 cup whole almonds, with or without skins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
5 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp almond extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried tart cherries, cranberries, chopped apricots or any dried tart fruit

Equipment:
8-inch square pan, lined across the bottom and up two opposite sides with parchment paper or foil

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Toast the almonds for 15-20 minutes, or until brown. Stir halfway between baking to ensure even coloring.

Move the rack to the lower third of the oven and continue to heat the oven.

Process the almonds with the flour in a food processor, until the almonds are fine. Add the salt and baking powder and pulse to mix.

Toss the fruit with one tablespoon of the flour mixture so they won’t sink to the bottom of the bar. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the egg and almond/vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture, followed by the dried fruit. Spread the batter evenly in the pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and have pulled away from the sides of the pan and the top is light golden brown. Cool in the pan. Run a knife along the unlined sides of the pan. Lift the ends of the paper or foil liner and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares.

Can be stored, airtight, for at least one week.

Notes: Dream up your own creation by substituting any nuts or dried fruits! Pine nuts would give an Italian twist, pistachio is popular among food blogs like Chocolate and Zucchini and The Food Section, and walnuts would make a richer bar. Tart fruit is recommended to offset the sweetness of the bar.

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Valentine’s Day: Celebrate with chocolate

chocolate truffle cookies

With Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year falling so closely together, you could say that February’s theme color is red. Red symbolizes love and good fortune (in Chinese culture), of course.

But I say February’s theme color is brown, because there’s no better month to indulge in chocolate!

I recently made Beacon Hill Cookies from Alice Medrich’s Cookies and Brownies. Alice Medrich is a goddess on so many levels. Entrepreneur magazine named her America’s “First Lady of Chocolate.” Not only are her recipes decadent (I’ve never encountered a bad recipe from her), but her book Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts is the best low-fat, if not dessert, book out there. You can have low-fat dessert and never know the difference!

Back to the cookies… I prefer to call them Truffle Cookies because it’s a much better description. It’s basically melted chocolate with just enough beaten egg whites to aerate it. Upon biting into the cookie, the paper thin crust shatters to reveal a creamy center.

You should use the finest quality chocolate you can find. Because there’s so few ingredients, the chocolate can’t hide behind the “dough.” I used chocolate that I bought in Europe last May. Even after seven months, the chocolate was still in its prime. Of course proper storage helped. Since New York is humid in the summer, I wrapped the chocolate in plastic wrap, refrigerated it in a metal tin (so flavors in the fridge wouldn’t seap through), and didn’t unwrap the chocolate until it came to room temperature. If you unwrap it any earlier, condensation will cause the chocolate to develop white spots (bloom). A little water + chocolate is like oil + water. Not a good combination! The original Beacon Hill cookie recipe calls for chocolate chips. You could use them, but chips have additives that help them keep their shape.

Warning, these cookies are deadly! These are not cookies you scarf down mindlessly. You must savor the aroma and flavor of each bite, doting on the subtle flavors in your chocolate.

Last note about the ingredients: cream of tartar stabilizes the whites and helps them beat faster. If you’ve ever beaten whites but instead got a white curd floating on top of a watery mess, you’ve overbeaten the whites. Cream of tartar acts as insurance. However, a tiny jar costs about $5, and as Alton Brown says, it’s a one-hit wonder. I prefer kitchen multitaskers, so you can substitute it with twice the amount of distilled white vinegar or lemon juice. Some people complain about the off flavor of vinegar, but I can never detect it in the baked product.

Chocolate Truffle Cookies
adapted from Alice Medrich’s Cookies and Brownies

These are best eaten the day they’re baked. They’re still good a couple days later, but they lose their truffle-like creaminess.

Makes about 30 2-inch cookies

Ingredients
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into pieces
2 large egg whites, at room temperature (hint: whites are easier to separate when they’re cold but beat better when they’re at room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1/2 teaspon white vinegar or 1/2 teaspon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Equipment
2 cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper or greased

Optional step: To bring out the flavors of the nuts, toast them whole in a 325F oven for about 10 minutes, or until they’re fragrant and browned. Chop them when they’ve cooled.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave on medium for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, or set the chocolate in a double boiler. Stir frequently until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Remove from the heat and stir to complete the melting. Set aside.

Beat egg whites with the cream of tartar (or vinegar or lemon juice) and vanilla until soft peaks form when you lift the beaters. Add the sugar gradually, continuing to beat until the egg whites are stiff but not dry. They’re ready if you invert the beaters and the egg whites stand straight up. If they droop, they’re not ready. Pour the nuts and all of the warm chocolate over the egg whites. Fold with a rubber spatula until the color is uniform.

Right away, drop level teaspoons of batter at least 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are shiny and cracked, firm when you press them but still gooey inside. Rotate the sheets from front to back and top to bottom of the oven about halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Store airtight for up to 3 days.

Frugal me…while the cookies are baking, lick the bowl clean, because the batter’s like chocolate mousse. If some of the chocolate solidified in the double boiler or spatula, pour warm milk over it to remelt it. Then treat yourself to a cup of real hot chocolate.

Some ideas for lightening the cookie:

  • Use half the nuts and toast them so you can get away with using less. Also chop them finer so every cookie has nuts.
  • Substitute a mixture of cocoa powder and sugar for half of the chocolate.
  • Substitute softened Nutella for the chocolate and omit the sugar. Okay, the Nutella doesn’t really help, but it’s an interesting variation.
  • Use low-fat chocolate souffle as the batter but bake as directed above.

I only tried the first option, so I have no idea how the other variations work. If you try it, let me know!

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