Mocha Chip Meringues

One of my favorite cookies happens to be a meringue.  We loved the taste of these cookies over the Christmas holiday this year.  I used a Martha Stewart recipe and as every one of her recipes, it worked perfectly. These cookies were crispy, but soft inside the center of the cookie.  The chocolate taste was just perfect and not overpowering.  I opted to use mini chocolate chips in the recipe, instead of the full size chips.  I found the substitute to be perfect and a nice improvement to her recommendations.

How to make the mocha chip meringues–gather these ingredients: 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 3 egg whites at room temperature, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon espresso powder, 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees with two racks divided within the oven.  Add parchment paper or silpat mats to the cookie sheets.  In a small bowl, mix sugar and cornstarch.

In an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt until frothy on medium speed.  Then add sugar mixture slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat about 6-8 minutes until very stiff. I used my stand mixer with the whipping whisk.  Add espresso powder and cocoa next.  Fold in chocolate chips at the end with a spatula.

Drop onto cookie sheets, one tablespoon at a time.  Bake 40 minutes.  Cool for 20 minutes before removing from cookies sheets.  Great recipe and these cookies are light and delicious.

Cherry Pistachio Shortbread cookies

Every Christmas I like to try at least one new cookie recipe, and this year I found a recipe in Yankee Magazine which was especially delicious.  My cookie tray looked quite festive with the red and green colors that this cookie contains. I did chill the dough overnight and baked them the next day.

Here are the ingredients to make the cookies:  2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 egg, separated, 2 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup chopped pistachio nuts, chopped red candied cherries, 1/3 cup white sanding sugar.

In an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and salt.  Beat in the egg yolk and mix.  Add flour and pistachios. Blend until combined. Remove dough from the mixer, and hand mix in the cherries.  Divide the dough into 2 1/2 logs about 12 inches long.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight on a sheet pan.

  

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using parchment paper or silpat mats, cover the baking sheets.  Brush the egg white over the logs after unwrapping and place on waxed paper.  Sprinkle the coarse sugar over the logs and slice the cookies. Place on the baking sheets and bake 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned.

Cool and serve.  These cookies can be frozen and kept to serve at a later time.

Hasselback Apples

Fruit desserts are some of my all-time favorites.  One of the easiest fruit desserts has to be this apple recipe.  Be sure to choose a Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apple, as some of the other softer flesh apples will not hold up during the cooking process.  I found this recipe last year in Cooking Light magazine and have moved it up in my list of tasty simple desserts.

Decide how many people will be served, and make the according number of apples, with one per guest as the standard serving size.  In less than one hour, everyone will have a heated dessert served with either vanilla ice cream or whipped cream that they will forever remember.

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Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees.  Peel, core and halve each apple, and then place cut side down in a baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Make even slices throughout the apple, making certain not to go all the way down to the baking dish.

Next combine an equal number of tablespoons of sugar and butter, along with 1/2 the amount of cinnamon.  Brush this mixture over the apples.  Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes until the apples are tender.

Finally, combine 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 tablespoons rolled oats, 1 teaspoon flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt.   Fan open the apple halves and spoon this mixture on top of the apples.  Bake again for another 10 minutes.  To finish the cooking process, broil for 2 minutes and serve warm.

This is a cozy dessert.  Serve when you have lots of time to savor the flavor and the warmth of the fruit. Yum.

 

one pan cake with fruit

I am becoming a fast fan of Martha’s cookbook  One Pot.  I have been trying recipes in every category with outstanding results.  Even in her dessert chapter, all of the selections are made with just one type of pot, pan or skillet.  So, I would call these quick and easy desserts.  Reading through the recipes, I can see that any of them would even welcome substitutions from any pantry.

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For this recipe, I substituted pears for plums and the result was super tasty and delicious.

To make this cake:

First decide on the fruit for the cake.  These would be the possible choices:  plums, peaches, cherries, pears, apples, or any berries. Peel and slice those that would have peels, prepare the others as you would for any pie.

Next, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease an 8 inch skillet or pan.  Dust with flour.  Whisk together the following ingredients in a bowl– 1 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt.  Next, mix 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, and 1/2 cup buttermilk with a hand mixer in another bowl.  Gradually add the flour mixture into the batter bowl.  Incorporate with the hand mixer.

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Transfer to the baking pan.  Add the fruit to the top.  Sprinkle the top with additional sugar.

Bake about 40 minutes until browned.  Test with a cake tester to done. Serve either warm or cooled.  This is a great brunch cake, a tea cake or an anytime fruit dessert.

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Delicious with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and drizzled with either caramel or chocolate sauce.

Yummy.

 

 

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shortbread cookies for every holiday

I have a few recipes that I can use throughout the year.  This is one of them.  It comes from Ina Garten.  With this recipe I am able to use any cookie cutter and a variety of sugars or decors to make the cookies look holiday specific.

The best part of this recipe is the consistency of the cookie dough.  After mixing, I chill and then roll into cookies on either waxed paper or a silpat mat.  The result is PERFECT every time. The cookie dough is firm and not crumbly.  It is neither sticky nor dry.

The recipe comes from Ina’s first cookbook published in 1999 –The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

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To make these cookies:

Gather these ingredients.  3 sticks room temperature unsalted butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 3 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar.  Add vanilla.  In a separate bowl, mix flour and salt, then slowly add to the sugar mixture.  Mix on low.  Roll into a flat disc with a bit of extra flour, wrap in plastic and place on a sheet pan.  Chill for 30 minutes to one hour in the refrigerator.

Remove and roll on waxed paper or a silpat mat until 1/2 inch thick.  Cut with cookie cutters. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place cookies on a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat mats, and sprinkle with decorations or sugar.  Bake 20-25 minutes depending on your oven.

My hint:  I always chill these cookies on the sheet pan before baking.  The cookie edges are cleaner and stay firm when baking.  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

raspberry breakfast muffins

Fresh raspberries are plentiful at the market, and I just couldn’t resist purchasing several packages.  Muffins made with fresh berries are sometimes a bit tricky, since there is so much moisture in the berries.  I looked through some of my cookbooks to find a recipe using fresh raspberries, and decided after some time to look online at Driscoll’s website for a suggestion. All of my cookbooks were recommending frozen berries, rather than fresh berries. Driscoll’s is the berry distributor.

At Driscoll’s, they had this recipe for breakfast muffins, and it suggested slightly freezing the berries before incorporating into the muffin batter.  I decided to try this technique and froze two packages of berries for 45 minutes in my freezer.

The muffins are delicious and the technique worked, though i still feel like the raspberries were soft while being blended into the batter.  However, I can’t imagine what they would have looked like if I had not frozen them for the short time frame.

To make these muffins:

Measure out 1 cup of granulated sugar and add onSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESe teaspoon of chopped lemon zest or dried lemon zest. If using fresh lemon zest, it is recommended to allow the sugar to absorb the flavor for several hours.

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Next, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and using about 3/4 cup of the sugar, coat the muffin cups.  Then, measure out 2 1/4 cups flour, adding these ingredients to the mixture:  2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the rest of the sugar.  Combine and add 1 stick of unsalted butter, cutting into the mixture until it is in small pieces.  I used my stand mixture to complete this step.

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In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup buttermilk, 2 large eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract together.  Add this liquid to the flour and sugar mixture and incorporate with the mixer.

To 1 3/4 cups of fresh raspberries, add 1/4 cup flour and mix together to coat the berries.  Next, add them to the batter, simply to mix in and not over beat.

Fill the muffin cups to the top and bake 10-15 minutes until the muffins are cooked through.  A cake tester may need to be used to make certain all of the moisture, from the berries, is baked into the muffin.  These muffins are very tasty and would be perfect for everyday or a special holiday breakfast or brunch.  The muffins are delicious when warm and can be microwaved to heat for ten to 20 seconds to gain that flavor boost.

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trader joe’s gingerbread

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a couple of weeks ago i tried a Trader Joe’s box cake mix.  it was delicious.  i added a topping of chopped walnuts.  the cake is very moist and easy to prepare.  and, it is only offered during the holiday season in the stores. there is something special about the taste of gingerbread.  it reminds me of many of the historic villages we have visited over the years–Colonial Williamsburg, Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill Kentucky, Hancock Shaker Village, Sturbridge Village, Old Salem, or Greenfield Village in Dearborn Michigan.

any of these historic sites usually offers the dark rich blend of molasses, ginger, cloves and cinnamon in a cake or cookie.  the taste transcends anything that is usually made today.  today’s stores are typically filled with sugar cookies or peanut butter cookies.  however, the classic taste of gingerbread is something that will never be forgotten.

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the Trader Joe’s mix comes together very easily with just water, egg, and a bit of canola oil. it is easier than making gingerbread, as there are many ingredients including spices that have to come together for the recipe.  i would say the taste is excellent in this box mix, and resembles anything that i could make at home.

the feel of the holidays will come to your home with this easy box mix.  the ginger cake could be served with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, chopped nuts, holiday red raspberries, or even a drizzle caramel.