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Cookies/Bars

Cookies/Bars

Espresso Almond Meringues

Meringues like you have never tasted!

Our hotel in Barcelona (The Hotel Continental) was right on Las Ramblas. In fact, our room was facing the street and one of the nights we were there was Barcelona’s Independence Day, so the partying in the streets down below went on until 6:00 a.m. This was a really cool little hotel with a nice courtyard with table and chairs and the best part was that there was beer and wine on tap 24/7. So, needless to say, there was a lot of beer and wine drinking going on while we there.

I bought this fan from a street vendor the night I purchased my almond meringue. The meringue I bought didn’t have the espresso powder added, but I decided to add it to my recipe, and glad I did. When I saw this fan, I knew I needed it to shoot my meringue cookies picture. We saw fans all over Spain. I bought a beautiful one from Van Gough’s Museum in Amsterdam and we saw a whole shop of them in Barcelona (see picture at bottom of post). I paid 2 euros for the above one but we saw fans for over 100 euros at a shop in Pablo Espanol Village.

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Candy/ Cookies/Bars/ Dessert

Bacon and Eggs

Bacon and Eggs – Sausage and Eggs, however you see it!

Ok, ok, so it isn’t really bacon and eggs. But, (my husband says I say BUTTTTT, way too much) it makes a cute breakfast/brunch amuse bouche.

Who doesn’t love bacon and eggs or sausage and eggs? Makes a great breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you are vegan then these little tidbits will satisfy you quickly. Meatless, egg less, but not sugarless!

I first saw this in a magazine at least 15 years ago. I cut the picture out, saved it for years, and have made it several times. This little “thing” (not really sure what to call it) makes a great little conversation piece for a brunch or breakfast.

I did a kids class one year at Williams Sonoma and showed the little ones how to make this along with my pear “rudolph”. They loved the bacon and egg snacks.

It’s simply pretzels, white chocolate and yellow M&M’s.

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Bars/ Cookies/ Cookies/Bars

Nanaimo Bars

What’s a Nanaimo Bar – I’ve never heard of one.

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

Today I was sitting in a dentist chair waiting to have my teeth cleaned. Now, there isn’t a thing in the world I wouldn’t rather be doing at this moment. My least favorite thing to do in life is having my teeth cleaned. Don’t ask me why. I think, mostly, it is the polishing and that little grinder and that gritty stuff they put on your teeth. Years ago when my kids were in the dentist chair, I said to the dentist, “do you use the gritty stuff on them”, the dentist says, “oh, we don’t say gritty to the kids, we say CRUNCHY”.

Well, trying to take my mind off this “crunchy” treatment, I start thinking about the blog and what I could make. Crunchy keeps coming to mind and I know I’m making these Nanaimo (Nah-nye-Moh) bars for the challenge and I want to try and make homemade graham crackers for part of the recipe. So as I sit here, I imagine rolling out the dough, pricking holes in the individual cookies, baking and then pulverising them to make graham cracker crumbs. Ahh, that seems to do the trick because I can almost smell the cookies baking in the oven and before you know it, I’m out of this chair.

I have never heard of this dessert before. The recipe is a classic Canadian dessert recipe that originated in Nanaimo, British Columbia and since the winter olympics are going to be in Vancouver it seems a fitting dessert to try. After making it, I need to find someone to give them to to get them out of the house. This is a no-bake recipe so if you aren’t up to making the graham crackers from scratch, just buy some graham cracker crumbs from your grocery.

The graham crackers were actually fun to make. I think these homemade crackers would make great smores.

Nanaimo Bars

Ingredients

  • Bottom Layer:
  • 1/2 c.  unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated Sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup  walnuts finely chopped
  • 1 cup  coconut
  • Middle Layer:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding powder
  • 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp. Nutella
  • Top Layer:
  • ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • Tbsp. unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
  2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, peanut butter, pudding powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in color. Add the Nutella and swirl a bit with a knife. Do not over mix.  Spread over bottom layer.
  3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and sprinkle with additional chopped walnuts. Chill until firm.  If you have a hard time cutting these, try dipping a knife into very hot water and then cutting. The knife will slide right through the bars.

Cookies/ Cookies/Bars/ Dessert

Homemade Graham Crackers

I think graham crackers are the most misunderstood cookie ever eaten.

This is such a simple little cracker/cookie that never has gotten enough attention. Kind of like Cinderalla. Add some buttons and bows and dress her up and she becomes a beautiful young lady. Well, you can do so many things with this plain little graham cracker. Over the years I have made so many different desserts using graham cracker crumbs. Everything from pies, tortes, smores, pineapple puff balls, and was probably one of the first cookie/crackers I let my kids eat when they were toddlers.

These graham crackers were part  of a recipe for Nanaimo Dessert Bars and this recipe was adapted from Nancy Silverton’s La Brea Bakery book.

I first saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s website and thought they would be fun to make and then when this Nanaimo Challenge came up from The Daring Kitchen, I decided it would be a good time to try the homemade graham crackers.

The graham cracker was developed back in 1829 by a Presbyterian minister Rev. Sylvester Graham as part of the Graham diet. Even though it is called a cracker it is more like a digestive biscuit (according to Wikipedia).

This is what the dough looks like when it is ready to go into the refrigerator to chill.

All rolled out. I used a fork to prick the tops.

Finished cookie. Next time I will put the cinnamon topping on them even though a traditional cracker does not have cinnamon in it.

Graham Crackers

Ingredients

  • Graham Crackers
  • 2 1/2 c. plus 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 1 c. dark brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 7 Tbsp. butter cut into 1" cubes and frozen
  • 1/3 c. mild flavored honey
  • 5 Tbsp. milk full-fat is best
  • 2 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Topping optional
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off or mix on low until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1" thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using, by combining the sugar and cinnamon a small bowl and setting aside.
  3. Roll out the crackers:  Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8" thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4" wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip ever 4 1/2" to make 4 crackers. I made mine about 1 1/2 - 2" and used a fluted cutter for the edges.
  4. Place the crackers on one or two baking sheets lined with parchment or Silpat. Sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the refrigerator or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Gather scraps together into a ball, chill until firm and re-roll.
  5. Adjust the oven rack to the  upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. To decorate the cracker: Mark a vertical line down the middle (I didn't do) of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a toothpick, skewer or fork, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2" for each side of the dividing line.
  7. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

Cookies/ Cookies/Bars

Marvelous Macarons

This is my first attempt at making French Style Macarons — will I make them again?

call these M&M Macarons for two reasons. First they are decorated with these beautiful pink and purple M&M’s and the second is they are marvelousssss…

I have started participating in The Daring Kitchen baking challenges. I think this will be a lot of fun and will push me to try things I’ve never baked before. Once a month someone sponsors a challenge. Everyone is given the same recipe and you have a month to make it and post it to your blog. After catering for 20 years and being married for 40 years I can’t believe I have never made French Style Macarons so this is going to be an attempt to go out of my comfort zone. Whether it fails or succeeds, the results are posted here.

I was in NYC in September on our anniversary trip with some friends who were also celebrating their 25th anniversary. Our last night’s dinner was at Gramercy Tavern and one of the amuse bouche desserts (we had 4) we were served were tiny little raspberry French Macarons. They were fabulous. So, I guess after this challenge I will know if am a failure or not at making Macarons.

Three days before I’m suppose to be making these, I have my egg whites sitting at room temperature. From everything I have read on macaron tips aging of the whites is really suppose to make a difference in the finished product.

Here I’m sitting at the computer, knots in my stomach trying to get up enough nerve to start these cookies. Oh, how I want them to turn out the first time. I don’t deal very well with failures. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. (I ended up making four batches.)

I put it off a little longer, decided to go work out and get rid of some of the anxiety that is building in this challenge.  And, I thought I was fearless 🙂

RESULTS:

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Cookies/ Cookies/Bars/ Dessert

Coconut Macaroons

I’ve been in search of a great macaroon for years.  Recently I tasted the best I have ever had at Katz deli here in Texas.  It was big, moist and a heavenly cloud of coconut.

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The unsweetened coconut is beautiful when it is in large pieces but not nearly sweet enough for a macaroon by itself. So you have to sweeten it with condensed milk. Have you EVER tasted anything with condensed milk that isn’t good? After making this recipe a couple of times I have since mixed the unsweetened (because I like the look) and sweetened coconut.

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Cookies/ Cookies/Bars/ Dessert

Peanut Butter Shadow Cookies

 If you like nuts, these are for you.  If you like peanut butter, these are for you and if you like chocolate and especially Nutella, you cannot walk away from these.

I found this huge can of Planter’s mixed nuts in my pantry this morning. They were left over from our anniversary party a couple of weeks ago and I started thinking “peanuts”  “mixed nuts”, what can I make today for the guys working so hard on getting our master bathroom remodeled? They need a treat to keep them motivated.

When I was a kid (I usually say when “we” were kids. Must be twin talk). We (my sister and I) would go to Memphis with our grandparents to shop. Back then (50’s/60’s) we shopped downtown. I remember how fun it was to “window shop” especially at Christmas when all the store fronts had Christmas scenes and we would stand there with our noses pressed to the window and watch Mr. Bingle do his Christmas magic. I don’t remember ever going to a mall, I don’t think there were any back then. Anyway, my grandfather always had to go to the Peanut Shoppe on Main Street. It’s still there and my husband and I went a few years ago and there, sitting on a shelf, was a peanut cup like I use to have as a kid. I want one!

I remember when walking towards the Peanut Shoppe we could smell the nuts roasting from blocks away. To this day when I see the little Planter’s guy I think of this peanut shop. My grandfather always got a bag of cashew nuts for himself and some peanuts or popcorn to feed to the squirrels in the park where he sat, forever, waiting for the “girls” to shop. I remember this little shop also selling coconut brittle which I’m going to try soon.

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I have had this recipe for Peanut Butter Shadow Cookies for about 20 years. So today I decided to try my Peanut Butter Shadow cookies, substituting Nutella for the melted chocolate chips that is usually folded into the cookie dough.  I also thought to roll them in the mixed nuts I need to get rid of. (Hard to believe but I have never tasted raw cookie dough – I would much rather wait for the finished product.)

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Cookies/ Cookies/Bars/ Dessert

Coconut Shortbreads

Tea time and the shortbreads are ready!

I got up this morning with a major decision hanging over my head.  Do I roll up my sleeves, take off my shoes, get in my 20 year old shower and start scrubbing down the walls trying to get it somewhat clean before our demo guy comes tomorrow to tear everything out for a remodel of our master bath.

Or?

Do I make coconut shortbreads which I can feed to our demo man??  That decision took me all of one second to make.  Shortbreads it is!

I have convinced myself that our bathroom marble is beyond ever looking good again and I would rather put my time to better use and that would be trying new blog recipes and feeding the workers during this 3-4 week bathroom remodeling project. So with a dining room piled high with clothes and everything we have had stored in our bathroom for 20 years, I decided to start my shortbreads. After all, I have to have a snack for whoever shows up this week to work on our bathroom. It just wouldn’t be right to NOT have some homemade snacks for them.

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Cookies/ Cookies/Bars/ Dessert

Hunka Hunka Love Cookie…….

Hunka Hunka Burning Love…..Cookie

How many of you remember that song Hunka Hunka Burning Love, written by Dennis Linde and made famous by Elvis. I do, and I remember seeing him in two concerts.

Back when I was just around 10 (in the 50’s) or so my twin sister went to Memphis with our grandparents to see Elvis’ home at Graceland and we went to one of his concerts.  He was so young and good looking then and not into his capes and glitzy clothes. We went crazy just like all the other teenagers at the concert. It almost seems surreal now thinking about it. That was our first concert ever and a few years before we were crazy over the Beatles and “I want to hold your hand”.  Boy, those were the simpler times.

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Cookies/Bars

Watermelon Cookie

Watermelon memories…

Another one of those memories from the past,  and this one is about watermelons. I told my husband as I was making the cookies and writing this blog that one of the many good thing about getting older is that I have all these memories I have associated with food stories.

Back when I was in high school, my husband, then boyfriend, and I went on a date to a watermelon festival in Hornersville, Missouri. I remember eating lots of watermelon, but what I remember most was hearing Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs at an outdoor concert singing “Wooly Bully”. That same weekend we went to a club called Batman a-go-go. We won our first dance contest there. Actually, it was the only dance contest we ever won.

I am making a watermelon sorbet tomorrow to go with these cookies. Can’t wait for you to try them together.

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Doesn’t this dough look bright and watermellony. I used a red food paste that I had in my pantry. This isn’t the grocery store variety. You will never get very deep colors unless you have color paste. You know no matter how hard I try to not get the food coloring on my hands, I always end up with it smeared somewhere.

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Roll about 1/8-1/4″ thick and cut out with 3″ cookie cutter, then cut in half.

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Put these on ungreased cookie sheet or use a silpat like I did above.

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Cool on rack.

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Take the cooled cookies and dip the edge in the green frosting so you have a watermelon rind on the edge your cookie.

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Let these dry on rack. Don’t use the wax paper like I did because it keeps them from drying as well. Put the paper under the rack to catch drippings.

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Watermelon Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c. butter softened
  • 1/3 c. shortening
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • red paste food coloring
  • mini chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. water or more for thinning
  • green paste food coloring

Instructions

  1. Beat butter and shortening in a mixing bowl. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Stir in egg, milk, and vanilla.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture mixing well. Add a small amount of red food coloring to color dough as desired, beating until blended. Shape dough into a ball; cover and chill at least 3 hours.
  3. Divide dough in half; store one portion in refrigerator. Roll remaining portion to 1/4″ thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough with a 3″ round cookie cutter; cut circle in half. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet or use Silpat on cookie sheet.
  4. Press several chocolate mini morsels in each cookie. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake at 375° for 8 to 10 minutes (do not brown). Cool on wire racks. Combine powdered sugar and water, mixing until smooth. Add a small amount of green food coloring, mixing until blended. Dip round edge of each cookie in green frosting, and place on wax paper until frosting is firm. Yield 3 dozen.

Recipe Notes

Beat butter and shortening in a mixing bowl. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Stir in egg, milk, and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture mixing well. Add a small amount of red food coloring to color dough as desired, beating until blended. Shape dough into a ball; cover and chill at least 3 hours. Divide dough in half; store one portion in refrigerator. Roll remaining portion to 1/4″ thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough with a 3″ round cookie cutter; cut circle in half. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet or use Silpat on cookie sheet. Press several chocolate mini morsels in each cookie. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake at 375° for 8 to 10 minutes (do not brown). Cool on wire racks. Combine powdered sugar and water, mixing until smooth. Add a small amount of green food coloring, mixing until blended. Dip round edge of each cookie in green frosting, and place on wax paper until frosting is firm. Yield 3 dozen.

Candy/ Cookies/Bars/ Dessert

Migas Bark

Bark made from breadcrumbs?

Last weekend we were in Chicago visiting our son and daughter-in-law who live in Bucktown. They have such wonderful restaurants, and so many are within walking distance of their home. One night we went to this new little restaurant Mado.  Their motto is Midwestern farmers, Mediterranean flavors. This restaurant is on one of the busiest streets in trendy Bucktown.

This restaurant is owned and operated by a husband and wife Allie and Rob Levitt, who met at culinary school.  They have worked in some of Chicago’s best restaurants. The restaurant processes and cure all their own meats and serve almost all of it, I think. We had a tripe dish while there and my son had a dish that had tenderloin, heart, and belly. The restaurant’s menu changes daily so you never know what delicious things may be showing up on the menu.

The New York Times did a review on the restaurant and said, “don’t miss the migas bark” and that is what the waiter told us that night. We ordered that along with a cornmeal cake which I will be making later this week.

This is my attempt to recreate the migas bark we had that night. 

This is a simple little bark but so good and crunchy you would not know you were eating chocolate and bread crumbs.

Tonight was our lady’s night out and we had sushi and came back to my house for pool floating time. That is always fun with a glass of wine and tonight my husband brought us out a chilled plate piled high with the chocolate migas bark. Yum!

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Start with some very good chocolate. The better the chocolate, the better the bark will be. I used bittersweet because that was the remainder of my 10# block of chocolate I had in my pantry. Mado’s bark was a dark chocolate.

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I stopped by Panera Bread on my way home yesterday and picked up this little sourdough bread bowl. Cute isn’t it. Makes me want to make some soup to put in it, but today it is going for a dunk in the chocolate.

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Make bread crumbs with it, then toasted them in the oven until nice and crispy.

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Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or set bowl over pot of boiling water and stir until melted.

Fold in the crumbs and spread on cookie sheet lined with waxed paper.

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Spread it very thin, the thinner the better.

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Migas Bark

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. very good dark chocolate
  • 1 – 1 1/2 bread crumbs torn into pieces

Instructions

  1. I didn’t measure anything but I would say I used about 1 lb. of chocolate and about 1/2 of that small loaf of bread. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water until melted and smooth. Put the bread into a food processor and process until you have coarse crumbs. I toasted my crumbs in a 175 degree oven about an hour or until they were nice and brown.
  2. I processed the crumbs a little more if I still had some chunks. You do not want fine bread crumbs, just coarsely processed. Mix in the crumbs (use your judgement on how many to use). Pour this mixture out onto a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Chill in refrigerator until firm. Break up and put in container until ready to eat. Enjoy.
Cookies/ Cookies/Bars/ Dessert

White House Cookies

This morning we had some people come to do some work on our house.  This is their second day working and in the past when we have done any remodeling I keep cookies or brownies made for the guys.

I’m thinking White House Cookies, since they are working on my “house”, seems fitting.  I’m not really sure where this name came from.  The recipe isn’t from THE White House and I’m thinking they are called White House because they are coated in powdered sugar and if kids eat them they will turn your house all white.

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