The other day I was sitting with a friend during her own food photo shoot for a international critically acclaimed newspaper, and she reminisced about the first food she tasted of mine over a decade ago. It was cheesecake which she loved. It got me to thinking I haven’t made one in a while. While I love to bake , I’m not a frantic baker as Certain Someone and I prefer the savory side . But every now and then I knock a dessert out of the park he loves, like my trifles or puddings. It’s no wonder he enjoyed this creation too. If you have some boxes of Girl Scout Samoas, obligatorily procured a few month ago from co-workers, some macadamias in the freezer, and cream cheese and eggs, this recipe is for you. Rather than use cream or sour cream in this cake I decided to add coconut to the theme by using Cream of Coconut, which is thicker and sweeter than coconut milk. Continue reading “Coconut Macadamia Girl Scout Samoas Cheesecake”
The vision of crushed pretzels in some sort of sweet pastry raced through my mind as I sat in a seminar recently. As my colleagues jockeyed for attention and notice in those forced group games, I kept dreaming of pretzels. I had a big box of them sitting on my kitchen table. What to do? I then saw my Green and Blacks Milk Chocolate Toffee bar, and this cookie was born. I’ve seen other variations of a pretzel cookies on the internet, but ,mine is different as I incorporate the ground pretzels into the cookie dough, not just plunking some pretzel on top. The rich toffee and chocolate merge excellently with the salty, crunchy pretzel. When I think of toffee I think of England, and when I think of pretzels I think of Germany. So thus, I christened these cookies Victoria and Albert’s, the greatest Anglo/ Deutsche pairing ever. Yes. I’m a nerd who watches too much British Drama.
- 1½ cups of ground pretzel sticks ( reserve ¼ cup for topping)
- 1½ sticks of unsalted butter room temp
- 1½ cups dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 Green and Blacks Toffee Bar chopped
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Line Cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a blender grid the pretzel sticks. The texture should be medium coarse. Set aside.
- In a bowl of stand mixture, cream the butter and brown sugar for 3 minutes with a paddle attachment.
- Add the eggs, cinnamon and vanilla extract and continue to mix.
- Scrape down mixture for sides to thoroughly blend.
- Add the flour, 1¼ cups of pretzel crumbs and baking soda. Beat with paddle another 2 minutes, scraping down sides as necessary.
- Add the chocolate and mix lightly in mixture.
- Make rounded spoons of dough, no larger than a walnut . Carefully pick up up dough and dip top in the remaining ¼ cup of ground pretzels.
- Place on baking sheet. spaced apart. 12 to sheet.
- Bake until cookie spreads,crisp around edges and golden, approx 8 min ( varies by oven). Do not overcook.
The other day I was in Stanley’s and saw a nice punnet of kumquat’s staring at me. Do you look at some foods and think back to your first taste, which may or may not have been pleasant? That’s how I felt with kumquat’s. I wanted to love the cute miniature citrus fruit , but a distant memory of just eating one raw off someones little tree, as child always held me back. Well I’m a big girl now, 43 years of age, to be exact and it was time to acquaint myself with Kumquats again. Surely if I cooked them down to a confit , almost candy like, they will go down well? And yes they did. Talk about a burst of sunshine and citrus finished with a hint of bourbon and cinnamon. The kumquats picked me up and tickled my tongue, as I ate it on hot buttered bread and black coffee. Preserved kumquat’s are better than orange marmalade in my opinion.The flavor more pronounced, as it’s really all concentrated in the peel.
Certain Someone is not a big jam , preserve type. He loves his charcuterie, black coffee , good bread and butter on lazy weekend mornings. So while I made a small batch, I wanted more applications for my confit. I had small sheets of commercial puff pastry in my freezer and nuts in the cupboard.
I took my kitchen shears and cut up a small amount of the candid kumquats to smaller pieces, as the confit was made from kumquat halves. I spread them over the defrosted puff pastry, added a mixture of pistachios and raw sugar which had been blended to a coarse crumb, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I then carefully rolled them up on either end, to meet in the middle. The rolls were sliced and dipped in more of the pistachio sugar crumb and baked on a parchment lined baking sheet at 375 degrees until golden. Careful not to burn the bottoms as the sugars from the confit and sugar crumb will caramelize. Remove from oven and let cook. You will have a nice tea or coffee time snack.
- 1 lb of kumquats, washed, halved, and seeded.
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon of Bourbon
- * apple core
- Halve and seed the kumquats.
- Place in a heavy bottomed pot with apple core.
- Add sugar.
- Slowly bring up the temp and stir and mash the fruit into the sugar until it starts to liquify slight. You don't want to burn the sugar or cook to fast.
- Stir in cinnamon.
- Cook on med heat until all the ingredients start to liquify and boil.
- Reduce heat until the boil is more like a simmer. Stir periodically and cook for several minutes until the fruit becomes more transparent and candied. This may take about 10 minutes more or less.
- The longer the cook time, the more candied the fruit. You want to make sure its spreadable and not to thick.
- Turn off the heat.
- Remove apple core.
- Stir in the Bourbon . The confit will sizzle a bit with the addition of the liquor.
- Place in clean jars.
- Let cool and cover
- Keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
… And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…
Yesterday was hot day at Coco Cooks. But now I’m shifting my focus back to holiday baking. Certain Someone took me to New York last week and I didn’t get a chance to post week three’s cookie from Saveur. So today I’m doing a double post ( weeks 3 and 4), so there is still time to get some cookies in your repertoire.
For my final two cookies I chose the complex and rich Basler Brunsli from Switzerland
and a Tozzetti from Rome,Italy.
Both were relatively easy to prepare. Allow for time with Basler Brunsli as it requires a drying out and rest time of three hours. The appealing part of the Basler Brunsli is that it is a Gluten Free cookie, for those that need a good gluten free recipe. Originating in Switzerland its composed of ground almonds, chocolate, cloves and cinnamon. I cheated and took a cue from some other bakers and used almond meal rather than grind my own.
For the Tozzetti, I took Bakers License. I didn’t have all the ingredients but variations of it. I mixed Anise extract with rum, rather than anise seed and Sambuca. I didn’t have whole hazelnuts, but chopped. And I only had ground almonds which I toasted with the hazelnuts. The flavor profile didn’t change, just the presentation of whole sliced hazelnuts in the Biscotti. This is a different recipe from other Biscotti , as you don’t mold a slab but pour the batter in a jelly roll pan and bake. But it works. I like them as they are not too sweet.
I would call both of these cookies the Grown Folks cookies. The flavors are more sophisticated and complex. They are sturdy cookies that will pack well in your holiday gift boxes. You can find the recipes for Basler Bunsli here and for Tozzetti here.
Check out the other Smart Cookies in our Holiday Baking Pursuits.
Can it be that time of year again? A year ago, our group of bakers were challenging ourselves for a second year of 12 Days of Cookies . At the beginning its all fun, but midway one starts to run out of steam with all of the other holiday demands. For that reason we didn’t decide until last minute to do it again. It’s a love hate thing with the cookies, but we do miss it so. It wouldn’t be the holidays without baking. Rather than add any more pressure or calories, to our already busy lives, we are keeping it light and easy this year. We love Nick Malgieri’s Smart Cookies From Around the World, in Saveur, we are going to just do a cookie a week for the month of December.The option to do more if desired, is always open.
So to begin , I’m starting off with a favorite from New Zealand, Caramel Crumb Bars. A bar type cookie built on shortbread, with a spread of caramel , and then more crumble.Buttery, crumbly, and chewy with a rich caramel, they are simply sensational. I’m tempted to make another batch with nuts perhaps. I could easily eat the whole tray. Click here for the recipe. I found the recipe easy to throw together. Just be mindful of the instructions, as you will not be using all of the butter or flour at the same time. While I worked on the caramel, I chilled my sheet pan in the freezer. The only other word of caution I can give is to watch that caramel and keep stirring. But all in all this is simple recipe with maximum flavor.