Double Ginger Shortbread: A Recipe

I had every intention of posting this recipe yesterday, but decided to spend time in the kitchen preparing homemade gifts for friends instead.

Ginger Shortbread 02December Photo Project 2012: Day #19

I ended up making double ginger shortbread, hazelnut brittle, and crunchy peanut butter cups. My kitchen was a mess, but the results were worth the clean-up that had to happen later.

My favorite of the three was definitely the shortbread. The recipe is so simple and you don’t need many ingredients. It makes the perfect amount for gifting to a couple of friends. The key is to handle the dough as little as possible to obtain a light texture.

Double Ginger Shortbread 

Makes however many cookie you prefer

Scant 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger powder
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup non-dairy butter, softened
1-2 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon coarse sugar
2 tablespoons roughly chopped crystallized ginger

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, first measure of sugar, ginger powder, and salt.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed for about a minute. Add in the flour mixture and beat at low speed until crumbly. Add in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a dough forms. You may not need both tablespoons of water. The dough shouldn’t be sticky or wet, but more like a cut-out cookie dough.

3. Gently shape the dough into a small round and place in a large ziplock bag. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

5. Remove dough from fridge and roll out between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper. I rolled mine out into a circle about a 1/2″ thick. Sprinkle the dough with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and press lightly so it adheres to the dough. Score the dough into 8+ wedges, but don’t cut all the way through. Put a few pieces of crystallized ginger onto each wedge and press down lightly.

6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until just turning light brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for several minutes before cutting through the score lines. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will firm up nicely as they cool.

Enjoy!!!

Tonight I am going to a holiday dinner with co-workers so hopefully I’ll be back with a photograph of something fun and/or interesting!

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Double Chocolate Balsamic Cookies: A Recipe

Do you want to know the sign of a bad sweet tooth? It’s when you already have a fresh batch of cupcakes in the kitchen and you decide to make cookies too. An even greater indication is when your pantry isn’t properly stocked and you desperately improvise to make baking the cookies possible. That happened to me today. I woke up feeling a bit under the weather and still found the energy to bake. I guess cookies are the true best medicine? Yes, I think that’s what researchers are saying nowadays…

Onto those cookies! My pantry really was lacking in the ingredient department. I had plenty of sugar (of course), but hardly any flour, cocoa powder, or vanilla. Originally I wanted to make ginger cookies, but without ginger, that doesn’t work very well. So, chocolate cookies seemed fitting for my needs. These particular cookies use an unusual ingredient: balsamic vinegar (which, incidentally, I spilled all over the floor). I was hoping it would provide richness and a bit of ooomph, but I can’t really notice it in the baked cookies. Maybe more sophisticated palettes will detect it?

Double Chocolate Balsamic Cookies 02December Photo Project 2012: Day #13

A quick note about these cookies: they are sweet. I consider these a great indulgence. You can reduce the granulated sugar by a 1/4 cup if you prefer, but I like how they turned out. They would be lovely with your favorite vanilla ice cream! Also, this recipe would most likely work with all-purpose flour, all whole wheat pastry flour, or a combination of both. I was using up the last of a few different varieties of flour.

Double Chocolate Balsamic Cookies

Makes about 1 dozen cookies

1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips (please use organic/Fair Trade, here’s why)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar for sprinkling on top, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a bowl, vigorously whisk together oil and first two measures of sugar. Add in balsamic vinegar, vanilla, and flax mixture. Whisk until ingredients are well combined and smooth.

3. In a separate bowl, stir together flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Drop spoonfuls of dough (about 1 1/2 tablespoons per cookie) onto a baking sheet. You can use a cookie scoop if you prefer – I like them because they make uniform, round, pretty cookies. People will be amazed at their beauty!

5. Put the last measure of sugar onto a plate. Take a ball of dough, gently press the top into the sugar mixture, and place it back on the cookie sheet. Make sure the cookies are flattened slightly. They will spread while baking, but the extra little push at the beginning helps.

6. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until cookies have flattened and cracked across the tops. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

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Twisted Cornmeal Breadsticks with Fennel & Coarse Salt

Days off are usually pretty rewarding. Today has been spent in my jammies wandering around the apartment completing tasks on my to-do list. One of those tasks was to make breadsticks.

Making Bread 02December Photo Project 2012: Day #6

I haven’t made many batches of breadsticks. This particular recipe stood out though and seemed like a nice accompaniment to the carrot-parsnip soup we are having for dinner tonight. I adapted the recipe from a very old issue of Cooking Light magazine. It was nearly vegan to begin with, so my changes are minimal.

Twisted Cornmeal Breadsticks with Fennel & Coarse Salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm, unsweetened, non-dairy milk (I used soy)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

1. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together milk, sugar, and yeast. Set aside until frothy, about 5 minutes. Stir in olive oil.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flours, cornmeal, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Using the dough hook, knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic.

3. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and set in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume. This should take about 1-1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

4. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 24 equal portions. Cover with a damp towel to prevent the dough from drying out. Roll each portion of dough into an 8-inch rope. Take two ropes and twist them together, pinching each end to seal well. Place breadsticks on prepared baking sheets. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap while you finish with the remaining dough.

Breadsticks 02

5. Once all breadsticks have been shaped, cover lightly with plastic and set back in the warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Brush the water gently over the tops of the breadsticks and sprinkle with the fennel seed and salt mixture. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned and puffy. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.

Breadsticks 04

Sadly, by the time these finished baking, all daylight was lost. But, you can still see how pretty they are with the twisted shape. I loved the addition of fennel seeds on top. Now we are justing waiting for the soup to finish!

Mighty Miso Soup: A Recipe

I spent a majority of the day thinking it was the weekend. Maybe it’s because I lingered in my jammies too long before heading to work… where dancing was the requirement:

Dance!

This is an outtake from our holiday photo shoot. As a group, we have some serious, serious moves.

All that dancing (and later, jumping!) made me hungry. Since Tim has been feeling ill this week, I made a monster batch of ugly but delicious miso soup.

Miso Soup 01December Photo Project 2012 Day #5

Miso soup is soothing, healing, and very nourishing. I hope it makes Tim feel better soon. This recipe is easily adaptable to suit your own tastes. I’ve made it twice and discovered that a darker miso works much better. The batch above has chickpea miso and the flavor wasn’t as strong as I had hoped.

Mighty Miso Soup

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
7 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon kelp granules
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 block firm tofu, drained, pressed, and diced small
1 heaping cup cooked short-grain brown rice
4 cups water
1 small head curly kale (or spinach), chopped
2-3 tablespoons miso of your choice
Chopped chives or scallions for garnish, optional

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the sesame oil. Stir in the mushrooms and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms soften slightly. Add in the ginger powder and kelp granules and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice vinegar and vegetable broth. Stir well.

2. Add the tofu to the saucepan and stir gently to coat. Allow everything to simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the rice and water and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the kale, and cover the pot. Check after a few minutes to see if the kale has wilted. Stir everything around once or twice and let simmer for a few more minutes. Ladle out about 1 1/2 cups of liquid from the pot and put in a glass measuring cup. Whisk in the miso until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pot and stir well to incorporate. Let the soup rest for a few minutes to meld the flavors and then remove from heat. Make sure not to bring the soup to a boil or you will destroy miso’s healing properties!

4. Ladle into bowls, top with chives or scallions, additional seasoning, and sriracha. Enjoy!

Happy National Cookie Day!

A fellow blogger let me in on a little secret… Today is National Cookie Day!!!! I think I like holidays created for doughnuts, cookies, and pizza much better than the traditional holidays. I mean, good foods deserve their own special day, right?

In celebration of this sweet holiday, I made cookies. Not just any old cookie, but a fancy cookie! I wrote the recipe for my soon-to-be published cookzine and finally found some time to work out the kinks. In the spirit of National Cookie Day, I am sharing the recipe with you!

Choco-Berry Cookies 02December Photo Project 2012: Day #4

These are called Choco-Berry Cookies: a chocolate dough and a raspberry dough side-by-side and dipped in dark chocolate. They were supposed to be twisted, but that ended up being too much work for a batch of cookies. These came out wonderfully! Sadly, I didn’t have parchment paper so after I dipped them in chocolate they stuck to my cookie sheets. Hmpf. You can’t tell from the photograph.

Choco-Berry Cookies

Makes about 32 cookies

1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons raspberry jam, or jam of choice
3/4 cup organic chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes on medium speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add in the non-dairy milk and vanilla extract. Beat again on high speed for about a minute.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cups of the flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and beat until a dough comes together. Divide the dough into two equal parts.

4. Place one measure of dough back into the stand mixer bowl and add the cocoa powder. Beat until the cocoa powder is incorporated. Remove dough from mixer bowl and place on a clean, lightly-floured surface. Now, put the second measure of dough into the stand mixer bowl and add remaining 1/4 cup flour and the raspberry jam. Beat until well incorporated. Remove dough from bowl and set next to the chocolate dough. The dough should be soft and pliable, like playdough. Chill it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or add more flour (1 tablespoon at a time) if it isn’t firm enough.

5. Divide each batch of dough into four equal parts. Roll each part into a 16-inch long rope. Take one rope from each batch, place them side-by-side (so they are touching) and gently press them together. Repeat with remaining dough.

6. Using a sharp knife, slice each pair of ropes into 8, 2-inch long cookies. Transfer each cookie to prepared baking sheet. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before proceeding with the recipe.

7. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips. Stir well to ensure a smooth mixture. Take cooled cookies and dip one end in the melted chocolate. Return dipped cookies to their parchment-lined baking sheets and place in the fridge to firm up the chocolate. These tend to soften if left out, so store them in an airtight container at room temperature.

Enjoy!!

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