Tag Archives: cookie

Rum Balls

I planned to write this post detailing how it included my favorite things — rum and balls, of course.  And then I was going to integrate how appropriate Rum Balls are during the holiday season because of the infamous Pete Schweddy’s Balls.  And then I planned to go into the typical territory that we all need alcohol to get through the holiday season with the stress of busy schedules, travel, not enough money, and families that drive us crazy.  And don’t forget the dinner table arguments with Republicans.  (I kid because I love, Dad.)

But I’m not going to do that.

Because in the last three weeks, our family and friends have been crushed by loss.  A dear family friend and the mother of one of our best friends lost her battle with pancreatic cancer.  A friend lost her best friend to a heart condition.  We (and some of our dearest, old friends) lost a friend we went to high school with when he died of a sudden heart attack at 38 years old (with a wife and two boys, 10 and 7).  And now, another friend has lost her 44 year old brother (with a 2 year old and a baby on the way) to a sudden heart attack also.

So my thought is this:  please take the next few days and embrace those around you.  Tell them how much you love them and how much they mean to you.  Don’t argue over whether someone bought a cheap bottle of wine.  Don’t worry that the presents aren’t wrapped yet (Cuizoo, I’m talking to you.)  If the pine needles haven’t been adequately vacuumed before the company comes, ignore it.  I have distinct memories of being a little girl with pine needles on the floor and in all of my presents.  It’s OK and it hasn’t scarred me or anything.  If you didn’t get the last two batches of cookies made, skip it.  Against all of my normal advice, go to the store and buy something pre-made.  I’m buying a deliciously non-organic, non-pastured, antibiotic-fed Honeybaked Ham for Christmas Eve.  So there!

As I was passing a fellow parent at school drop off today, she remarked that Christmas is only magical for kids because they don’t have to do any of the work.  True enough, I guess.  But we need to step outside all of the work and find the magic in simply being together, as contrived as that might sound.  We need to cut ourselves a few breaks and not hold one another to insane standards that aren’t attainable.  We need to let go of anger and silly bickering.

We need to think about children who have lost parents and remember that the only thing our kids truly care about is that we are together (even if they claim they are pissed about not getting a Wii).  We need to hold our siblings and parents and grandparents a little tighter, knowing that this ride doesn’t last forever.  Some of us have been taught these lessons already.  Some of us will learn soon enough.

So, Merry Christmas and Happy 2011.  Please hug those who make you feel safe.  Tell them that you love them.  Thank them for all they do for you.  And raise a glass to those we have lost too soon.

Rum Balls

Makes about 3 dozen

2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs, from a 9 oz. box (I do this in the food processor)
2 cups toasted pumpkin seeds, finely chopped (or other nuts … I do this in the processor too)
4 t. light corn syrup
Pinch of salt
2 generous shot glasses of good quality rum (I used a pure cane sugar rum)
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

1.  Combine vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped pumpkin seeds, corn syrup, and salt.  Stir in rum.  If mixture is too dry, you may need a bit more rum.  It should be clumpy, so you can roll into balls.

2.  Put powdered sugar on a plate.

3.  Taking about 1 heaping teaspoon of the rum ball mixture, roll into a ball using the palms of your hands.  Drop into powdered sugar and coat well.  Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining rum ball mixture.  When finished, place rum balls in a ziploc bag and store in the refrigerator.  They are best if made up ahead and allowed to “ripen” for a few days (my grandmother’s words).   (This is the only time you want balls to be ripe.)

Cocoa Butter Chocolate Chunk Brownie Cookies

Recently, my brother in law who works for a chocolate company (unnamed, of course — that’s how we do it here) asked me if I would ever have any interest in getting my hands on cocoa butter or chocolate liquor. Thinking that maybe I could give myself a massage and get drunk on chocolate, I said yes of course.  I really have never known cocoa butter to be anything more than a remedy for pregnant belly stretch marks — but I thought it might be interesting to fool around with it.

So I commenced with The Google and found out that it was used pretty infrequently in mainstream cooking and baking. Cocoa butter was used to make chocolate and sometimes in truffles or the like, but I rarely saw it used in anything else.  I’m guessing the main reason is that it is hard to find and more expensive — but given the interest in plant-based, vegan fats, it seems like it might catch on.  It is a bit harder at room temperature than coconut oil, but it softens up or melts quite nicely.  And, of course, it imparts a wonderful essence of chocolate — which is great when you want a non-animal fat and aren’t in the mood for essence of coconut in all of your baked goods.

Beyond, it seems purely luxurious, doesn’t it?  The idea of pure cocoa butter in a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert seems, well, pretty awesome.  And then if you stuff that cookie full of melted dark chocolate, cocoa nibs, dark chocolate chunks, and white chocolate chunks?  Well, send me to my room and draw the blinds.  These cookies will not disappoint.  And while I tried to stay sane (I used a bit of whole wheat flour), I didn’t cut back on the sugar because I knew I would lose the amazing brownie chewiness if I did.  Feel free to experiment with less — but this is the one time (OK, maybe one of four or five times) of the year that you need to eat a cookie the way it was meant to be eaten.

Commence with the drooling.  And if you want a source for food grade cocoa butter (and don’t have a brother in law), try here.  The cocoa nibs are generally available in a chocolate store, a good grocery store, or gourmet store.  I should add that if you can’t find cocoa butter, I am sure regular butter would be a perfectly delicious substitute.  It just wouldn’t be cocoa butter.  And on Valentine’s Day, how fun would that be?

Cocoa Butter Chocolate Chunk Brownie Cookies

Makes 2 1/2 dozen

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet dark chocolate, chopped
6 T cocoa butter (regular butter or coconut oil would work also), softened
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 t instant espresso powder
2 t vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa nibs
1 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
1 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a double boiler, melt together 8 ounces of chopped dark chocolate and cocoa butter until completely smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly.

2.  In a bowl, sift and mix together white whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl with a mixer, mix together espresso powder, vanilla, and eggs until just combined.  Add white and brown sugar and mix for about two minutes until the mixture is very thick and ribbony.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in melted chocolate mixture.  Add in flour mixture and fold until just combined.

4.  Stir in cocoa nibs and chocolate chunks.  After a minute of two, the mixture will stiffen up considerably and will seem almost like the texture of fudge.

5.  Drop tablespoonfuls of batter onto parchment lined baking sheets.  I would not put more than six cookies on one sheet because they spread.  Bake for 15-16 minutes until just done on top with a crackly crust.  If you use more than one cookie sheet at a time, I would recommend switching the sheets midway through the baking time.

(BTW, Valentines pictured are courtesy of my daughter who was busy at work assembling them during our snow day today.)

Black Bean Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I have a hypothesis about cookies.  No one hates them.  Sure, we all love certain types better than others — but in a land without back fat, would you ever *really* want to turn down a cookie?  I am thinking no.  And I have come to realize that I can use this fact to make my children eat just about anything.  Things they would never normally eat can be put in a cookie and (to them) taste like a french fried chicken nugget dipped in chocolate sauce with a side of cotton candy.

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So my daughter hates black beans.  And white beans.  And kidney beans.  She has declared that she hates beans in general, but I have had to remind her that she loves lima beans, green beans, soy beans, and cocoa beans.  As I have mentioned before, there is always crying if I she finds out we are having a bean-based dinner.  So when a friend mentioned she had a recipe for a lentil cookie, I started thinking about the concept.  We recently had a free afternoon and I decided to give it a try.  I didn’t have any lentils in the house, so I decided to do a black bean chocolate cookie.

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I wanted to make something that could legitimately be considered an after school snack — including some protein, lower in sugar and fat, and whole grain — but in cookie form so the kiddos felt like they were having something special. What we ended up with was quite good, and the bean hater had no clue what the secret ingredient was until she asked for her second helping.  I am going to continue to play around with the recipe and plan to try some other basic cookies with white bean or lentil puree in them.  Give it a try and let me know if you come up with some good combinations or proportions.

Black Bean Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes 2-3 dozen

1-15 oz. can of black beans, drained, rinsed, and pureed with 1/8 cup of water
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
2 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 t baking soda
3/4 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
6 T butter, softened
1/2 cup of honey (or agave nectar or sugar of your choice)
1 egg
2 t vanilla extract
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into small chunks

1.  Preheat oven to 375 F.  Mix together dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

2.  In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream together butter and honey for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add egg and incorporate well.  Mix in vanilla extract.

3.  Add black bean puree and cooled melted chocolate to butter mixture and mix well.

4.  Mix dry ingredients into the chocolate/black bean mixture in about three additions until cookie dough just comes together.  Finish mixing with a wooden spoon.

5.  Stir in chocolate chunks and drop by tablespoon onto parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake at 375 F for about 8-10 minutes.  (Don’t overbake or they will get dry.)

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Whole Grain Dark Chocolate and Dried Cherry Biscotti

If I were to make a list of things that change when you have kids, trips to the coffee shop wouldn’t even make the top 25. Because pretty much every thing you do as a human being during the course of a day is impacted by children.  Eating, sleeping, working, cooking, going to the bathroom, vacations, cleaning, driving, restaurants, grocery stores, doctor’s appointments, shopping, exercising … the list could go on for, umm, days.  I really wish someone would have told me that children change everything.  Oh wait, they did.

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But I do think back to those unencumbered trips for a cup of coffee when I could read the newspaper or think about a project without breaking up fights and cleaning up spilled hot chocolate.  And I have come to realize that your fellow coffee shop patrons will dread the sight of you walking in with children because their blissful, quiet newspaper reading is about to come to an end.  And so, you have four options:  1) Say “I don’t effin’ care” and take the kids anyway, 2) Give up trips to the coffee shop, 3) Only patronize coffee shops with drive thrus (I’m a big fan of coffee shops with drive thrus), or 4) Bring the coffee shop home.

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Number four makes sense, actually.  At home, the cost of the coffee is actually in line with, umm, the price of coffee — as opposed to some sort of liquid golden petroleum that cures cancer.  Your kids can run free around the house and watch Dora or color on your walls — so no dirty looks from the kidless crowd.  You can use fair trade, organic coffees with local or organic milk.  You can use your own wireless for free.  You don’t have to pretend to enjoy that random Latin Jazz artist.  And you can make your own biscotti where you control the ingredients!

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So, while I still have no ability to make a heart in my foamed milk, I can make a pretty decent biscotti.  This one is whole grain with additional wheat germ and ground flax, lightly sweetened with honey, and studded with dark chocolate and dried cherries.  I don’t like my biscotti to make me feel like I am going to break a tooth, so I keep mine more on the tender side.  But if you like them harder, you can cut them thinner and/or bake them longer.

I can’t promise you that the coffee experience will be the same as the days before kids, but the biscotti will be a lot better.

Whole Grain Dark Chocolate and Dried Cherry Biscotti

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/2 cup honey
2 large eggs
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried sour cherries, roughly chopped
3/4 cup dark chocolate chunks (from about 6 oz. of chocolate)
3-4 oz. additional dark chocolate, melted (optional for dipping after biscotti are cooked)

1.  Preheat oven to 325 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In a medium bowl, stir together white whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, ground flax, wheat germ, salt, and baking powder.

3.  In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together butter and honey for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one a time and mix until incorporated.  Add vanilla extract and mix.

4.  Mix dry ingredients (flour, etc.) into butter mixture in about three separate additions.  Mix until just combined and then switch to a wooden spoon or spatula.  Stir in cherries and dark chocolate.

5.  Shape cookie dough into a flattened 4 inch by 12 inch log.  Try to square it off on the ends and keep it uniform in thickness.

6.  Bake the log for 30 minutes until just golden.  Remove from oven, slide log (on parchment) onto a cooling rack, and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

7.  Reduce oven temperature to 300 F.  Carefully transfer the log to a cutting board (Man, I wish I could come up with a better term than log.  It is starting to seem obscene.).  Using a very sharp knife, slice into 3/4 inch biscotti and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Arrange on baking sheet with the cut side up. (You should end up with about 16-18 biscotti).  Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.  (Slightly longer baking times will produce crunchier biscotti.)

8.  Remove from oven and transfer biscotti to cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely and drizzle with melted dark chocolate (if desired).

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