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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

I'm going to slip this recipe in while it is still Christmas week. These cookies, topped with ganache and chopped peppermint candies, are beautiful and rich and one cookie can fill you up. Merry Christmas!



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Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Yield: 32-36

Although these folks cook at about 4300 feet above sea level, they have a national following. I'm not sure how they address the issue of altitude. In their photos, the cookies look flatter (a result of lower air pressure) so I wondered if this recipe works better at lower altitudes. I altered my effort (changes in parentheses) since my altitude is almost 5000 feet and I refrigerated the dough before baking. They turned out thick and chewy. 

for the cookies:

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour (I added 2 T flour )
3/4 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
3/4 c Dutch-processed cocoa
1 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c granulated sugar (minus 2 T)
1 c light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teas vanilla extract
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks 

for the ganache:

16 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (if you have Callebaut chips you can skip chopping)
1 c heavy cream

1 c crushed candy cane pieces

If you are going to bake immediately, bring oven to 350F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa in a medium bowl. In another bowl cream butter and sugars with a mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well. Stir in vanilla until combined.

Gradually add flour mixture just until combined. Add the chocolate chips. If you plan to refrigerate do so for at least 2 hours.

Scoop the dough in rounded tablespoons. If the dough has been refrigerated, it is easy and relatively mess free to roll the dough in your hands. Place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart and bake for 10 minutes (because the dough was chilled I baked them for about 12 minutes) until cookies are set but still soft in the center. Avoid over baking. Remove from the oven and let sheet rest on a cooling rack for a few minutes before lifting the cookies off to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, make the ganache by heating the cream in the microwave on high until hot but not boiling. You can see little bubbles around the edge. (You can also do this in a saucepan.) Add the chopped chocolate and let stand for 45 seconds, then stir until the chocolate melts into the cream. 

Dip the cookies into the ganache covering all but the tip where you are holding it. You may slide the cookie against the bowl to remove some of the chocolate on the back (or not) and place the dipped cookie on parchment paper. While the chocolate is still warm sprinkle generously with chopped peppermint.  Allow to cool. (I found that even on parchment I had to use a thin spatula to remove the cookies from the parchment. I may lightly spray with cooking spray next time, although that may add some greasiness. Or I'll just eat the ganache left on the parchment.)


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Baked Oatmeal: Three Stick-to-Your-Ribs Variations

Almost two days away from official winter, I recall that much earlier this fall when I attempted to use up the abundance of several foods from my garden and Betsy's (thanks for the zucchini) I came across recipes for baked oatmeal. Many use intriguing ingredients although I didn't find any that would help me use some of my bumper crop of green tomatoes. I've tried four types and probably will try others but I'll share these three for now.



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Raspberry Baked Oatmeal


Source: sixsistersstuff.com
Serves 6-9

2 c old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 teas baking soda
1/2 teas cinnamon
1/4 teas salt
1 1/2 c raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 T butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 teas vanilla
1 1/2 c milk, dairy or non-dairy
1/2 c mini chocolate chips
1 banana

Preheat your oven to 375F.  Butter or oil a baking dish; it can be a 9X13 or smaller which, of course, will vary the resulting thickness and may affect cooking time.

In a bowl mix together the oatmeal, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir well and fold in the raspberries and chocolate chips.

Mix milk, egg, butter, vanilla in another  or glass measuring cup. Pour this mixture over the oatmeal mixture and stir until liquid is evenly distributed.

Scoop mixture into prepared baking dish, spreading with a spatula to ensure even coverage. Or just give the dish a good shake. Slice the bananas 1/4-inch thick and place on top of the mix.

Place in the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes until browned on top and somewhat solid feeling when you press on it with your finger.

Sprinkle with additional brown sugar, if desired, and serve warm.

Notes:

Any berry or mixture of berries would work here; plus you can use frozen if desired. If you like to have nuts or seeds in your oatmeal add a few with the dry ingredients.




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Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal with Maple and Pecans


Adapted from:  http://www.fivehearthome.com
Serves 6-8

1/2-3/4 c pecans, chopped
1 c pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 c milk, dairy or non-dairy, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature and slightly beaten
1/4 c coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled, or substitute an equal amount of butter
1/4 c pure maple syrup
2 T brown sugar
1 teas vanilla
2 c rolled oats, not instant
2 teas ground cinnamon
1/2 teas ground nutmeg
1/2 teas ground ginger
1/4 teas ground allspice
1/4 teas salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Place the nuts in an 8-inch baking pan (or equivalent baking dish). Place in the oven to toast the pecans, watching to make sure they don't scorch. When fragrant and toasted, remove and place in a large bowl. Let the pan cool somewhat then spray with cooking spray or coat with butter.

Add the oatmeal, pecans, brown sugar, spices and salt to the pecans. In a small bowl, place the eggs and stir in the pumpkin puree, milk, coconut oil (or butter), maple syrup, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

Place mixture into baking dish and cook for 25-30 minutes until set and light brown on top. This is good with dried fruit on top as well as chocolate chips. (I haven't met a baked oatmeal that doesn't work well with chocolate chips.)




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Zucchini Bread Spiced Oatmeal Bake


My mom's recipe for zucchini bread included coconut so I've added some here. The original site for this recipe doesn't include nuts because of a nut allergy but serves candied nuts for others to add to their servings. It's a nice way to dress up the bowl and tastes great, too.

Adapted from: Twopeasandtheirpod.com
Serves 6-8

2 c rolled oats, not instant
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 teas salt
1 teas baking powder
1 /4 teas ground cinnamon
1/4 teas ground nutmeg
1 1/2 c milk, dairy or non-dairy
1 large egg, slightly beaten
3 T coconut oil (or butter), melted and slightly cooled
1 teas vanilla
1 c shredded zucchini
1/2 c shredded sweetened coconut, optional (if you use this, you may want to reduce the sugar)
1/2-3/4 c chopped nuts of any variety, toasted

Oil or butter an 8-inch square baking pan or equivalent baking dish. Preheat oven to 350F. Use the oven to toast the nuts if you are using them.

Mix oats, sugar, salt, baking powder and spices in a large bowl. In another bowl stir together the milk, egg, oil, vanilla. Pour this over the dry ingredients and stir. Add the zucchini, shredded coconut, and nuts, if using and stir again. Place in prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned on the top and set.

Note:

I really liked eating this with candied nuts on top so I'm sharing a recipe for a fast method, which makes sense if you are trying to get breakfast on the table. These nuts could be used in any of these recipes or other applications as well. If you use the candied nuts on top, leave out the nuts in the oatmeal itself.

Maple Glazed Walnuts


Adapted from Ellie Kreiger on Foodnetwork.com

2 c walnuts, halves or coarsely chopped
1/3 c maple syrup
1/8 teas salt

Heat a 9-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add all ingredients and stir. Cook for 3-5 minutes stirring frequently until the liquid is caramelized and the nuts are toasted. I cooked it until there was no liquid left but watch carefully to keep them from scorching. Cool and store any leftovers in an airtight container. These will remain slightly sticky.