That’s how the cookie crumbles..

What’s better than milk and cookies?

I was having all sorts of technical issues this week, but finally go them resolved and was able to actually upload images again. So now that’s all taken care of for this weeks post I’m making cookies. Though this time around, I’m dressing up that timeless classic chocolate chip cookies. 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.

Peppermint Chocolate Layer Cake with Peppermint White Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Rich chocolate cake stacked high with layers of Peppermint White Chocolate Buttercream Icing and finished off with more buttercream, chopped up candy canes, and peppermint bark

I hope everyone had a relaxing Christmas Holiday, things are settling back down around the homestead and the marathon cookie baking and decorating has come to an end. Now that we’re heading into the New Year, things are also calming down at work and I should be back to having consistent days off which will hopefully allow the blogging schedule to fall back into place.

This week’s recipe came about because I was asked to bring a dessert for Christmas dinner.  I’ve been intrigued (read obsessed) with MilkBar’s layer cakes (and their corn cookie and crack pie). The gang over at MilkBar always seem to come up with these fanciful flavor combinations for their cakes and they have a distinct visual style with their unfrosted sides. It’s been ages since I’ve baked a layer cake, so I thought it would be kind of fun to try my hand at building a MilkBar style towering marvel.

Over the years via interviews and various cooking segments, Christina Tosi (the genius behind MilkBar) has shared how she goes about designing and assembling these cakes with the cake itself, the frosting and a textural element as the basic components. In this case because of the holiday I opted for crushed candy canes and crumbled peppermint bark for my textural elements. I also decided to use peppermint oil rather than peppermint extract, because it provides an intense wallop of peppermint flavor. You can certainly use peppermint extract, it just takes a lot more extract to provide the same intensity of flavor and that will impact the texture of the frosting. I was able to find food grade peppermint oil at a specialty shop, but you should be able to find it easily enough on the interwebs.

As it turns out, I must have given away our cake pans when we moved from NJ to CA. So I had to go out and buy new cake pans. I opted for 7″ inch springform pans figuring that the springform would come in handy for assembly, transport and unveiling. I lucked out and was able to find 3 identical pans at Homegoods.

There’s basically three stages to creating this cake, first its the baking of the cake, then making the buttercream and then the last part is the assembly of the cake itself. The whole process took about 8 hours, which includes the time the cake had to chill in the fridge so the icing could set up and help hold the.cake together so It could be transported to its destination.

Part 1…the cake

Ingredients

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint oil
  • 8 oz. melted extra dark chocolate
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 8 tsp extra dark cocoa

Place a clean glass or stainless steal bowl over a pot of lightly boiling water to make a double boiler. Break the chocolate into small chunks and place into the bowl, stir until all the chocolate has melted. Set aside to let cool. While the chocolate is cooling, assemble the rest of the cake ingredients. In a large bowl, combine, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cocoa and set aside. In another bowl, mix the oil, water, sour cream, vanilla extract, peppermint oil and eggs lightly until combined then slowly pour into the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined by hand or with an electric mixer. Slowly mix in the melted chocolate. Divide batter evenly between 3 prepared 8″ cake  pans and bake in an oven preheated to 350 for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Because I used smaller pans and filled them to about half full, the cake took closer to an hour to bake for me. Remove from the oven to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then remove from the pans and let cool completely before icing.

Part 2….the Icing

Ingredients

  • 1lb unsalted butter (softened and room temperature)
  • 12 oz white chocolate chips
  • 1lb powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp food grade peppermint oil
  • 2 TBS corn syrup
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

Use a double boiler or microwave to melt white chocolate chips and set aside to cool. Once the white chocolate has cooled but is still liquid, whip butter in a large bowl or stand mixer with whisk attachment on high speed until the butter turns pale yellow. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and add vanilla extract and peppermint oil and whisk on medium speed until flavoring is incorporated. With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle in the white chocolate and add the corn syrup*. Turn the mixer off and scrap down the sides. Add ⅓ of the powder sugar and turn the mixer on to low, mix until the powered sugar is thoroughly incorporated, turn off the mixer and scrap down the sides between each addition. Continue until all the powdered has been added. You should hear the motor of the mixer slow down. Now gradually start adding the heavy whipping cream. Your looking for a nice spreadable/pipable texture that’s not too loose. The icing should be airy but still hold a peak so you may not need all the cream.

Part 3….Assembly

Some assembly required. A springform pan and a sheet of clear vinyl hold the cake together during assembly.

 

  • large spoon or piping bag with large tip to apply icing
  • 1 cake pan
  • 1 cake board
  • a 10″ wide strip of acetate of clear vinyl.
  • clear tape
  • crushed candy canes
  • broken up pieces of peppermint bark

Cut the acetate of vinyl so that the length is equal to the circumference of the cake pan with 1″ overlap. The acetate/vinyl is what will allow you to build up the layers of the cake.  Level all three cakes, crumble the tops and set aside, you’ll use them to form the bottom layer of the cake.

Place the cake board at the bottom of the cake pan, then form a cylinder with the acetate/vinyl and place it into the cake pan, making sure that the cylinder is snug against the sides of the cake pan. Tape the top and bottom of the cylinder.

Spread a thin layer of icing on the cake board and pack the crumbled up cake into the bottom of the cake pan and top with a layer of buttercream. I find that its easier to use a piping bag for this rather than trying to spread with a spoon. Sprinkle the buttercream with crushed up candy canes and peppermint bark. Continue layering cake, buttercream and candy until get to the top layer. Frost the top layer and sprinkle with more candy canes and peppermint bark. Place a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the cylinder and place in the fridge to chill for at least 6 hours or overnight. This will allow the frosting to firm up which will help keep the cake together.

To serve, tip the cake onto its side and remove the cake pan, keeping a hand on the cake board so that it stays in place, turn the cake back up upright and place it onto a cake stand or plate. Cut the tape and remove the vinyl/acetate cylinder.

Enjoy….

* The corn syrup is necessary for texture and to help stabilize the frosting. Honey or agave will not substitute in this case because they’ll solidify and turn gritty when the cake is chilled.

Holiday Treats Part III – Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Biscotti

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Biscotti

For part three of my holiday baking series, I’ll share with you my recipe for biscotti. Like my other holiday treat recipes, this ones fairly easy and doesn’t require any special equipment or ingredients. You can make them with whatever you’d like. This variation is with pumpkin seeds and cranberries, but you can make them with just about any combination of nut and berries.

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Biscotti
3 ¼ cups a.p. flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
½ vegetable oil
3 eggs
zest of one orange
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, mix the 3 eggs, orange zest, sugar and oil together. In a separate bowl or on a large sheet of wax paper, combine all the dry ingredients. Then slowly add them to the egg and sugar mixture. Mix until it stiffens into a firm dough. Add the cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Form into two loaves 1 ½ inch thick loaves and place on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and remove from the cookie sheet to cool for an hour. Once the loaves are cool enough to handle, slice into ½ inch thick slices, place onto a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet and back at 325ºF for 8 minutes. Turn over and bake for another 5 minutes.

Holiday Treats Part II-Sugar Cookies and more

Snowman Cookie

As I mentioned in a previous post, the thing I look forward to the most during the holidays is baking holiday treats. Here are a couple of my favorite cookie recipes, a simple kid friendly sugar cookie and a chocolate variation of the same sugar cookie. I’ve made a video to show you just how easy it is to prepare the sugar cookies. I’ve also included, my recipe for icing as well as some pictures to show you some examples of different ways you can decorate the cookies.

Chocolate Snowflakes copy
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
3 oz grated bittersweet chocolate
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder

Put the butter and chocolate in a large microwave safe bowl. Heat on medium power for 2 minutes. Take out and stir half way through the cooking time. Remove from the microwave and stir with a whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated with the butter. Add the sugar, egg and vanilla and stir until blended. Slowly incorporate the flour, baking powder and salt. Turn out on a board or counter that’s been dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Knead dough until its blended and forms into a square. Wrap with waxed paper. Seal in a plastic bag and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375f. Divide dough in half and return the unused portion to the fridge. Roll dough out until its between 1/8″ and 1/4″. Then cut into whatever shape you’d like. Lay out on a parchment lined cookie sheet (or you can use a silicone baking mat). Bake 8 -10 minutes for softer cookies or 10-12 minutes for crispier cookies.

Icing
2 TBS Softened Butter
2 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
2 tsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 6 tsp light corn syrup
paste or powdered food coloring

With a hand mixer, soften the butter then add in the powdered sugar. Slowly add in the milk. Gradually add in the corn syrup. The amount of corn syrup will vary depending on the consistency of the icing you’re trying to achieve. The icing needs to be free flowing to flood the cookie surface, but not too loose or it will run off the sides. For piping and lettering it needs to be thicker but still able to flow through a #3 or 4 tip. This should make enough icing to ice 4 dozen 3″ cookies.

Here are some ideas for different ways you can decorate the cookies depending on the season.

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Plum tart… or pie or whatever you wanna call it.

Tarts and pies are a nice way to enjoy seasonal fruits. Since plum season is winding to a close, what better way to enjoy them, than a plum tart? I’ve used this crust recipe with pretty good success, but use whatever crust recipe works for you or store bought. Yes, I did just suggest store bought pie crust. Commercial crust is usually pretty thick and tough, so you’ll need to roll it out so its thinner and more pliable.

You’ll need a smallish tart pan 8 or 9 inches in diameter. If you don’t have a tart pan, you can use a pie plate you’ll just need more fruit to fill the plate and the “pie” will take longer to bake.

Plum Tart Filling
6-8 plums cut into 1/2 inch wedges
dash of salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp corn starch
2 TBS lemon juice
Zest of half a lemon
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line the bottom of the tart pan with the crust. Dock the crust and line with foil and then uncooked dry beans (don’t try to re-cook the beans they will never soften and be edible, but they’ll be great for blind baking crusts). Bake the crust ‘n beans in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the foil with the beans and let the crust.

In a large mixing bowl, combine plums, salt, brown sugar, lemon zest and the ground cinnamon. Put the corn starch into a small cup and add the lemon juice, stir with a fork until the corn starch is broken up. You may have a few lumps but thats okay. Pour the corn starch mixture in with the plums and stir until the plums are well coated. Let the mixture set for about 30 minutes, so that the natural juices start to come out of the fruit.

Pour the filling mixture into the shell and bake fo 40 minutes at 350ºF.

You can top the tart with a crumb topping or use another crust and make lattice top. I brush the lattice crust with cream or milk and dust it with a little sugar before baking. If you notice the crust or crumb topping is browning too much, cover it with foil.

Crumb (Struesel) Topping
1/2 AP Flour
1/4 Brown Sugar
1/2 stick unsweetened butter (softened)

Combine in a small bowl and blend with a fork until its crumbly…