2019 Holiday Cookie Round Up

Orange and Lavender Ice Box Cookies with a light sprinkling of sanding sugar.

Well its cookie season back at the casa. So here’s the round up of this year’s cookie exchange recipes. I tried to keep things relatively simple this year and opted not to do heavily decorated and iced cookies. Instead I’ve got a couple of simple Spritz cookie recipes and come icebox cookies. The appeal with both of these is that I could make the dough ahead and freeze it to be baked off later. The icebox cookies can be baked right out of the freezer. The spritz dough needs to thaw overnight in the fridge then come to room temperature before it can be used. Fair warning, my spritz dough requires a cookie press, its too stiff to pipe.

Basic Spritz Cookie Dough

  • 2 ¼ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp salt

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until it is a pale yellow. Add in the sugar and mix until airy and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until combined. Add the salt to the flour and then add the flour to the wet ingredients, mix on low until dough comes together and all the flour has been incorporated. Fill the chamber of your cookie press and attach your die to the end, and press the dough onto buttered and chilled baking sheet. Leaving about a 1″ space between cookies. Decorate with sprinkles or sanding sugar before baking. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 8-10 minutes or until cookies start to turn golden brown around the edges.

Cotton Candy Spritz Cookie Dough

  • 2 ¼ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cotton candy flavoring
  • 2 TBS blue spirulina powder (2-3 drops of blue food coloring)

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until it is a pale yellow. Combine the blue spirulina* powder to the sugar, then combine the sugar with the butter and mix until airy and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). The butter sugar mixture will be a vibrant blue color at this point. Mix in the egg until combined, then add the cotton candy flavoring and vanilla extract. Add the salt to the flour and then add the flour to the wet ingredients, mix on low until dough comes together and all the flour has been incorporated. Fill the chamber of your cookie press and attach your die to the end, and press the dough onto a buttered and chilled baking sheet. Leaving about a 1″ space between cookies. Decorate with sprinkles or sanding sugar before baking. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 8-10 minutes or until cookies start to turn golden brown around the edges.

*note; Blue Spirulina is an all natural blue green algae that’s commonly used for smoothies, the blue version is less briny tasting than green spirulina and is a vibrant blue color. Unlike butterfly pea powder, it does not change colors.

Orange Lavender Ice Box Cookies

  • 2 ⅔ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp orange extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened and at room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • ¼ dried mandarine orange slices (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp dried lavender blossoms (crushed)
  • white sanding sugar

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until it is a pale yellow. Add in the sugar and mix until airy and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). Mix in the egg, vanilla extract and orange extract until combined. Mix the salt, orange zest, lavender blossoms and dried orange slices into the flour. This will keep them from clumping up.  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mix on low until dough comes together and all the flour has been incorporated. Divide dough in half, and form into logs or rectangles and wrap with wax paper or parchment. Place into a resealable plastic bag and store in the freezer. Dough can be stored for up to 2 months. To bake, slice off ¼” thick slices and place on baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Sprinkle with sanding sugar and bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 12-14 minutes or until just golden brown along the edges

Mexican Drinking Chocolate Ice Box Cookies are perfect for dipping into piping hot well…Mexican Drinking Chocolate of course.

Mexican Drinking Chocolate Icebox Cookies

  • 2 ⅔ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 TBS cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup cocoa nibs (divided)
  • 1 TBS ground coffee
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened and at room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼-½ tsp coarse sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)

In a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, combine sea salt, cayenne, cinnamon, ground coffee and half the cocoa nips and grind into a fine powder and mix into the flour along with the 2 TBS of cocoa powder and whisk together to make sure all the spices and cocoa are well combined into the flour.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until it is a pale yellow. Add in the sugar and mix until airy and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until combined. Add the salt to the flour/cocoa spice mixture and then add the flour to the wet ingredients, mix on low until dough comes together then add the rest of the cocoa nibs and mix until all the flour and cocoa nibs have been incorporated. Divide dough in half, and form into logs or rectangles and wrap with wax paper or parchment. Place into a resealable plastic bag and store in the freezer. Dough can be stored for up to 2 months. To bake, slice off ¼” thick slices and place on baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 12-14 minutes or until just golden brown along the edges

Coconut Shortbread with Coquito Glaze

Coquito is a sweet coconut milk and rum drink generously seasoned with clove, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. It’s ubiquitous during the Holidays in Puerto Rico and is frequently referred to as Puerto Rican Egg Nog. If you don’t happen to be on a Boriquen’s coquito gifting list, you can find my recipe here. Since I’m making a Mexican Drinking Chocolate inspired cookie it’s only fitting that I make one inspired by coquito.

Cookie Recipe

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp rum extract

¼ tsp coconut extract

½ tsp salt

1 ¾ flour

1 cup softened room temperature butter

¼ tsp each ground cinnamon, ground clove, ground nutmeg and ground allspice (divided)

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy and a pale yellow. Add in extract and spices and blend until well incorporated. Mix the shredded coconut and flour together and gradually add into the creamed sugar and butter. Blend until dough forms into a ball. Pour dough out onto a sheet of waxed paper. Form into a log or rectangle and freeze until ready to bake. To bake, cut into ½ inch wide slices and space out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 12-14 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Drizzle with the Coquito Glaze to serve

Coquito Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp rum extract

2 tsp coconut milk

2 tsp corn syrup

½ tsp coquito spice mix

Green Tea Donuts dusted with powdered sugar and matcha powder and drizzled with a matcha glaze.

Matcha Donuts

¼ cup melted butter

⅓ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg lightly beaten

¾ teaspoon baking powder

⅛ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon matcha powder

⅛ teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of salt

½ teaspoon vanilla

1⅓ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup coconut milk

Topping

1 cup powdered sugar

1 TBS matcha powder

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, mix melted butter, sugar, nutmeg, salt and vanilla extract until combined. Add the beaten egg, and blend until combined. Add the baking powder, baking soda and matcha powder to the flour and lightly whisk to blend. Alternate adding flour mixture and coconut milk and blend between each addition until all the flour and milk is gone. Blend until all the ingredients are well incorporated. The dough will be sticky. Spray donut pans with cooking spray. Spray a large zip top bag or a disposable pastry bag with cooking spray and then fill with the donut dough. Cut of the tip and pipe the dough into the donut pan and cut off with clean kitchen scissors. Bake at 425F for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack. Place the powdered sugar and matcha powder into a clean large zip top bag. Toss cooled donuts in the matcha powdered sugar mixture to coat. Yield 1 Dozen Donuts

Here they are, this year’s batch of cookie exchange cookies. From left to right, matcha donut, cotton candy spritz cookies, coquito shortbread, orange and lavender icebox cookies and mexican drinking chocolate icebox cookies.

Figapalooza 2019 Part I

Yep, that’s right Figapalooza 2019 is in full swing at the ol’ homestead this week. Our upstairs neighbor is on her 4th batch of fig jam. I’ve made fig ice pops, fig flatbread, fig scampi, fig n’ grits and fig tarts. So this week I’ll share with you my recipe for Fig & Pistachio Honey Tart. The secret to bringing out the pistachio here is to use it as the base for the crust. Blind baking the crust helps roast the pistachios a little to bring that nuttiness more forward. There’s just a slight orange hint from orange zest and a little orange extract to help brighten things up.

Pistachio Crust

  • 1 egg
  • 2 TBS coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup chilled butter cut into cubes

Place 1/4 cup all purpose flour and the pistachios into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the pistachios are ground into a fine meal. Add the powder sugar, salt and the remainder of the flour and pulse 10 times to mix. Gradually add in the chilled butter, and pulse until dough is a sand like consistency. Mix the egg, vanilla extract and milk in a small bowl and slowly add to the flour and butter mixture until dough just comes together.

Form dough into a disk and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. After the dough has chilled, roll out to 1/4″ thick and lay into a tart pan and press the dough into the corners.

Dock the shell with a fork in several places. Line the shell with aluminum foil and fill with rice or dried beans. Blind bake the shell at 400F for 15-20 minutes. Remove the foil with the rice/beans and bake the shell for another 5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Filling

  • 8 oz marscarpone
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp orange extract
  • 1 TBS orange zest
  • 1/3 cup honey

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Fill the cooled tart shell with the cheese and yogurt filling.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill until the cheese mixture sets about 2-4 hours.

To serve, top with sliced firgs, chopped pistachios and a drizzle of hone.

 

 

 

By Popular Demand

Piña Colada Ice Pops

A few months back I took an impromptu and wholly unscientific survey of roughly 80 or so people (mostly my co-workers) asking what their favorite flavor of Ice Pop/Paleta was. Coconut was the winner by an overwhelming margin. Second was Cherry Pineapple which according to my co-workers was a common treat from the ice cream man after school. What surprised me though was that Arroz Con Leche or Horchata was also very popular.

So by popular demand, this week I’ll share my recipe for Coconut, Pina Colada and Arroz Con Leche Ice Pops. To make this weeks recipes you will  need either re-useable ice pop molds or you can get single use zip top ice pop pouches from Amazon. Here is the link to the brand I use.

Coconut

2 15 ounce cans coconut milk

1 can Creme de Coco

½ cup shredded coconut

½ tsp coconut extract

¼ tsp each ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground allspice and ground clove.

Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth, pour into molds and freeze for at least 8 hours.

Piña Colada Ice Pops

Pina Colada

1 15 ounce can coconut milk

1 Ripe Pineapple peeled, cored and cut into chunks

1 can Creme de Coco

½ tsp coconut extract

Combine all ingredients in the carafe of a blender, blend on high until smooth. Pour mixture into molds and freeze for at least 8 hours.

Arroz Con Leche Ice Pops

Arroz con Leche/Horchata

2 cups cooked rice*

1 15 ounce can coconut milk

pinch of salt

1 12 ounce can evaporated milk

1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla paste

½ tsp each ground clove, ground allspice, ground nutmeg

Yep, you guessed it combine all the ingredients into the blender and blend until well combined but not completely smooth. You’ll want to retain some of the grains of rice for texture. Pour into molds and freeze

* I suggest using left over rice, but if you do decide to make a fresh batch of rice for this make sure its at least room temperature but ideally cold.

 

That’s it simple easy kid friendly. Enjoy

Just in time….

We’re expecting our first heat wave of the summer this week so it seems like a good time to share one of those iced treat recipes I promised (warned about) a few weeks back. We hosted a bbq last weekend and one of the guests graciously brought us a huge bag of sweet limes from their tree. So I thought It’d be a good time to make some Lime Paletas or Ice Pops/Popsicles but with a Southeast Asian spin using lemongrass, mint and ginger. The easiest way to get all those flavors in there is by making an infused simple syrup.

I peeled and juiced all the limes and I was able to yield about a 1 1/2 cups of sweet lime juice. Simple syrup is pretty easy to make, its just equal parts sugar and water and heated until the sugar is dissolved then cooled down to room temperature or chilled depending on how you’re going to use it.  In this case I added a hefty chunk of smashed ginger and about 2 TBS of crushed lemongrass to give it that Southeast Asian vibe. I let the syrup cool to room temperature then strained it and let it cool further in the fridge. This will help the ice pops to freeze faster.

Once the lemongrass and ginger simple syrup was chilled, I got out the trusty ol’ blender and blended 1 1/2 cups of lime juice with 2 cups of the lemongrass ginger simple syrup, Then I tossed in 1/2 cup of fresh mint and blended until the mint was finely chopped. I poured the mixture into silicone molds then left to freeze for at least 5 hours.

I didn’t have good luck with the silicone molds and found that the ice pops get stuck even after running a little warm water on the outside of the mold. My suggestion is to use the zip top style ice pop bags, I got the ones I used on Amazon. If you don’t have molds or these fancy little bags, just freeze them mixture in ice cube trays. Hmm, if you pour a little rum over them you’d have an amazing little mojito…just sayin’

That’s it, I hope this helps you beat the summer heat…

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sweet lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • 3 TBS crushed ginger
  • 2 TBS crushed lemongrass
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

No scratches or bee stings required

Fresh out of the oven and piping hot Blackberry Cobbler

One of the many things I miss about living in the PNW (that’s Pacific Northwest) is how easy (and free) it is to get your hands on ridiculous quantities of blackberries. They’re like weeds and grow everywhere and you don’t even have to go far off the beaten path to find them they grow along the side of the road. To make this week’s recipe, you just need to get a hold of blackberries, fresh, frozen, foraged or otherwise.

We hosted our first bbq of the summer this past weekend and I wanted a dessert that’s easy to serve to a crowd, can be made ahead and reminds me of summer. Blackberries, cobbler and corn remind me of summer and cobblers are great crowd friendly make ahead desserts. Since blackberries pair really well with corn, I decided to make a corn biscuit top.

As I mentioned, this was designed to feed a crowd so adjust your quantities accordingly. I used a combination of fresh and frozen blackberries. This recipe will serve 8.

Blackberry Cobbler with Corn Biscuit Top

  • 8 cups of blackberries (if using frozen, thaw the berries and retain the liquid)
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Corn Biscuit top

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 cup freeze dried corn (ground)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 TBS chilled butter (cut into cubes)
  • 3/4 cup of buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and let sit for an hour or overnight. Preheat oven to 350F.

Biscuit top-

Combine flour, cornmeal, freeze dried corn, salt, sugar, baking powder and chilled butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until butter forms little pea sized balls. Slowly add in buttermilk/yogurt (you may not need all of it) until dough just starts to come together. The dough will be fairly loose and sticky and that’s ok.

Spray a 2 quart (deep dish) casserole with cooking spray and fill with berry mixture. Using a Table spoon that’s been sprayed with cooking spray, drop dollops of biscuit batter across the top of the berries.

dollop corn biscuit batter

 

Place casserole dish on a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 350F for 1 hour or until middle portion of the cobbler is bubbling. If top starts to brown too much over with aluminum foil. The cobbler can be served warm, room temperature or cold and pairs well with ice cream.

 

That’s how the cookie crumbles..

What’s better than milk and cookies?

This week was filled with all kinds of technical challenges, including the inability to upload images. Which is a wee problematic for blogging. I was finally able to get them resolved, So now that’s all taken care of I’m giving classic chocolate chip cookies. a little shake up for this week’s recipe. One of my co-workers gave me a package of Horlick’s Malted Milk Powder from her prized stash and it got me thinking that I don’t think I’ve ever seen Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies before. So after a little bit of testing here’s the recipe I came up with.

Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup/2 sticks of room temperature unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground coffee
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cup sifted All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed malted milk balls like Whoppers or Maltesers
  • 2 oz of chopped extra dark chocolate
  • coarse salt and chopped dark chocolate for the top (optional)

In a large bowl, cream butter until it turns a light pale yellow then add granulated sugar and light brown sugar and beat for a couple of minutes until it is light and fluffy. Add in eggs, malted milk powder, coffee and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Slowly add in salt, baking soda and sifted flour until the flour is mostly combined. You may have to mix this by hand or use a stand mixer. Stir in the chocolate chips, crushed malted milk balls and dark chocolate. Form into golfball sized balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let chill in the fridge for at least an hour before baking. To bake, preheat oven to 350F. Place dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet leaving 2″ space between cookies and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Fully Loaded….Fries that is…

Here in Southern California, loaded fries is a pretty big deal and just about every bar and hamburger stand has their variation of them whether it’s Pastrami Fries, Carne Asada Fries, or Greek Fries loaded with Gyro meat and feta. We make our own variation at home and the best part aside from warming up some BBQ brisket or pork and heating up some fries not much prep or cooking required. So this also comes together pretty easy on a week night with stuff from the grocery store.

Jack Danial’s Pulled Pork Fries

1 package of Jack Daniel’s Pulled Pork or Brisket

1 jar of Tostitos Queso sauce

1 bag of French fries, tater tots or waffle fries

2 cups of shredded cheese

1 jalapeno finely chopped

3 scallions finely chopped

1 dill pickle finely chopped

bbq sauce/mayo sauce*

 

Cook the fries according to the package directions. While the fries are cooking, heat up the bbq pork/brisket according to the package directions and set aside. Once fries are cooked, add the shredded cheese and top with bbq meat and drizzle with queso sauce. Return to the oven and heat until the cheese melts (about 5 minutes). Remove from oven, garnish with the chopped onions, jalapeño and pickles then drizzle with bbq sauce/mayo and serve.

*BBQ/Mayo Sauce

½ cup bbq sauce

½ cup mayo

1 TBS apple cider vinegar

pinch of salt

1 TBS honey or agave nectar

1 tsp hot sauce optional

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until combined

 

French Toast – Crowd Pleasing Brunch Edition

French Toast casserole style made with store bought cinnamon bread and fresh berries

This weeks recipe is a super easy way to make French Toast for a crowd. Typically if you’re making French Toast or pancakes for a large group, there’s inevitably someone waiting around hungry while whoever’s cooking is furiously trying to get fresh and hot pancakes/French Toast served as quick as possible. Not only is this extremely stressful for the cook it’s not particularly conducive for folks to gather around the table and eat at the same time.

Essentially what we’re making here is a French Toast Casserole or bread pudding. For added convenience, I used store bought, pre-sliced cinnamon bread that I cut diagonally and let sit out on a wire rack for an hour so that it would start to stale. This allows the bread to absorb more of the custard without becoming a soggy slimy mess. Alternately you can toast the bread but that’s one more step and this is all about ease and convenience.

To augment the menu, I’d suggest having things like granola, yogurt with fresh fruit, baked eggs, quiche or a Spanish style tortilla and sausage/bacon which you can bake ahead and warm up along side the French toast the last 15 minutes of baking. Here’s the recipe:

Recipe

  • 1 egg for every 4 slices of bread
  • 2 slices of bread per person
  • 1 cup half/half for every 4 slices of bread
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 TBS brown sugar for 4 slices of bread
  • butter or cooking spray
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh berries (optional)
  • Powered sugar (optional)

Spray a large casserole pan with cooking spray or coat with butter and set aside. In a large bowl, mix half/half, eggs, sugar, salt and cinnamon until well combined and set aside. Arrange sliced cinnamon bread in the casserole dish and then pour the custard mixture over the bread. Let sit for 15 minutes to ½ hour so the custard can be absorbed by the bread. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake casserole at 350F for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the egg mixture is set in the middle. To serve, dust with powdered sugar and top with fresh berries. That’s it, and it’s that easy.