Pumpkin Biscotti

I’m not really sure why I haven’t tried making biscotti before. I have read some other bloggers failed attempts at baking them. Leaving them with a love/hate relationship for the crispy cookie. My love/hate relationship is the fact that while they are delicious they are sometimes too crunchy. And yes, I know biscotti is meant to be enjoyed by dipping it into a nice hot beverage to combat that issue, but, I am just not a fan of a possible mushy cookie. I was planning making biscotti for the first time as part of this year’s Cookie Palooza after coming across a recipe for a pistachio cranberry one during my magazine cleanout I mentioned a few posts back – and I very well may still do so – but, I am thinking Almond Biscotti now. So, how did I deviate from my original biscotti plan? I came across a pumpkin version on Instagram and around the same time I was looking for pumpkin treats to bake for a friend’s birthday. She loves pumpkin and biscotti so it was a win win situation all around to try out the recipe.

To make the dough, I began by beating softened butter, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder together. Per the recipe the mixture was supposed to get creamy. It didn’t happen though. Not sure if it was because I was using my hand mixer vs. my stand mixer, but, the ingredients did combine just never into a creamy consistency. Next I added in an egg and pumpkin puree. At this point my mixture did become creamy. And finally I added in flour at low speed. The resulting dough was very sticky.

I transferred the dough to a baking sheet I lined with parchment paper. And yes, I had used that parchment paper before. I was baking chocolate chip cookies prior to making the biscotti. I simply flipped the parchment paper over and used the other side for the biscotti. And in case you are wondering or weren’t aware, it’s perfectly safe to use parchment paper more than once. Just make sure if you are gifting the cookies to anyone they don’t have any allergies that could be affected by a different batch of cookies you made. Since the dough was sticky I did my best to form it into two rectangles. The recipe said 10 x 2 1/2, I ended up with 9 x 2 1/2. I did my best to get it to 10 inches, but, it wasn’t happening.

Next, I smoothed both rectangles with a small offset spatula that I dipped in water. I then sprinkled the top with cinnamon sugar and lightly pressed the cinnamon sugar into the dough.

Then it was time for the first bake. I baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for 25 minutes. I then removed the pan from the oven, lowered the temperature of the oven to 325 F and waited 5 minutes.

After the 5 minutes I transferred one of the logs to a cutting board and using a large serrated knife sliced it into 1/2 inch sliced. I measured the first one and eyeballed the remaining ones.

I repeated this with the second long and then placed all of the cut biscotti on edge back on the baking sheet and returned it to the oven for about 40 minutes. At the end of the bake time I checked on the biscotti and they were beginning to brown around the edges and were just a tad soft in the center, as per the recipe they should be. So, I turned the oven off and opened the oven door a few inches so they could cool inside the oven.

And once cool I had a delicious batch of Pumpkin Biscotti. And I must mention that my house smelled delicious while baking these. That’s enough of a reason to bake up a batch.

 

Pumpkin Biscotti

  • Servings: approximately 30 pieces
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Ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 cups all-purpose flour

Cinnamon sugar for topping (optional)

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl beat the softened butter, sugar, spices, baking powder and salt on medium speed until the mixture is combined. Add in the egg and pumpkin puree and continue beating until the mixture is smooth. On low speed add in the flour and continue mixing until smooth. The dough will be sticky.

Transfer the dough to the parchment lined baking sheet and divide in half. Shape it into two 10” x 2 1/2” rectangles. Using a wet offset spatula smooth the top and sides of the rectangles.

Sprinkle the top of both with cinnamon sugar and lightly press it into the dough.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325 F.

Wait 5 minutes then transfer one of the logs to a cutting board and using a large serrated knife slice the log crosswise into 1/2” slices. Be sure to cut the biscotti straight up and down so that they are cut evenly. If you cut unevenly the biscotti may topple over during the second bake. Do the same with the second log.

Place the biscotti on edge back on the baking sheet and return them to the oven for an additional 40 to 45 minutes. Until the biscotti begins to brown around the edges and still a bit soft in the middle. Turn the oven off, open the door a few inches and let the biscotti cool completely in the oven.

Once cool, remove and store in an airtight container.

Recipe from King Arthur Flour

S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy National S’mores Day! This year to commemorate the day I decided to make S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookies. Now quite a few years ago I made a S’mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie – this was before I was aware of this celebratory day for this campfire staple – and it was exactly as the name suggests, an actual s’more (marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker) baked into the center of a chocolate chip cookie. For these cookies today the ingredients for a s’more are incorporated into the cookie. The graham crackers are crushed and whisked together with the flour and cocoa powder while the marshmallows and milk chocolate chips are folded into the cookie dough once all of the other ingredients have been mixed and combined.

The resulting cookie is one that’s perfectly chocolatey, a little gooey thanks to the marshmallows and has a hint of graham cracker.

S'mores Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 30 cookies
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Ingredients:

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 cup flour

1 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup dark cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

 

Directions:

Prep baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

The night before you make the cookies place the marshmallows in a bowl and leave on the counter uncovered. This will “age” the marshmallows and help them keep their shape while baking.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until fluffy.

Slowly add the flour mixtures, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once the ingredients are full incorporate stop mixing. Fold in the chocolate chips and the marshmallows.

Using a cookie scoop form the dough into balls and place on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving room for spreading. Chill the dough on the cookie sheets in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and baking the cookies for 12-15 minutes. The cookies will be set on the outside and soft in the middle.

Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe modified from Food52

Key Lime Pie Thumbprints

Thumbprint cookies… A versatile cookie that traditionally has a shortbread base and an indent in the center filled with jam, chocolate, dulce de leche, or for today’s cookie, a key lime chocolate filling. Don’t worry its white chocolate, not semi or milk chocolate. I definitely don’t think these cookies would be as appetizing if key lime juice was mixed in with either of those chocolates. Somehow I think the key lime flavor would be lost. Now, as a filling for a truffle I think it would be perfect. I may have had one or two of those before so I am speaking from experience.

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I have a friend who has all of a sudden fallen in love with Key Lime Pie. I’ve been making it for a few years now but all of a sudden when I made it last year it was like he was eating it for the first time. And when I asked some friends what cookies they wanted for Christmas last year (just over a month ago sounds so much better to say this early in the year) he suggested rugelach and a key lime pie. Which got me thinking of a key lime pie cookie since I wasn’t in the mood to make a pie (which I ultimately ended up making anyway.) So, I initially made the Key Lime Crinkles that were part of Cookie Palooza. While they were delicious, they lacked the key lime filling he enjoys so I knew I would have to try these thumbprints instead and I am happy to say that these were a hit with everyone who tried them. A cookie that will definitely be in my cookie rotation. Thanks to the graham cracker crumbs in the base of the cookie this is almost like enjoying a piece of key lime pie, but, in a bite size grab and go form. And while the key lime flavor is apparent in the filling I could imagine adding another tablespoon or so would kick it up even more.

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Key Lime Pie Thumbprints

  • Servings: 40 cookies
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Ingredients:

Cookies:

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg yolk

2 cups flour

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (4 graham crackers)

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Filling:

1 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

3 tablespoons key lime juice

2 teaspoons lime zest (1 lime)

 

Directions:

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat on medium speed until creamy.

Switch the mixer to low and add in the egg yolk and vanilla extract and continue mixing until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

In a separate bowl which together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, cornstarch and salt.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until the ingredients are incorporated. Scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Scoop 2 teaspoons of the dough and roll into a smooth ball and place on the prepared cookie sheets about an inch apart. (Using a standard cookie scoop I scooped the dough and then divided the dough in half to get the 2 teaspoon amount)

Using the back of a rounded teaspoon gently press an indent in the center of each ball. I have tried using my thumb for this step, but, have found that a teaspoon produces a much better circular shape.

Chill the dough in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Freezing the dough prevents the cookie from spreading too much while baking giving you more room for your filling.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Bake the cookies for 10-11 minutes. Immediately after removing the cookie from the oven press the teaspoon into the indent once again to redefine it. Let the cookies cool completely on the sheets before filling them.

To make the filling… Combine the chocolate chips, condensed milk and key lime juice in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until the chocolate chips have melted and the ingredients are well combined. Stir in the lime zest and continue stirring until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low and using a teaspoon spoon the filling into the cookies.

Allow the filling to cool and set before serving. When storing the cookies, keep in mind that the filling may remain a bit tacky. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe from Sugar Spun Run

Freezing Cookie Dough

I knew I would be pressed for time this year when it came to baking cookies for Christmas, so, I decided to do something I’ve never done before and was always skeptical of doing… freezing cookie dough. I normally have a good day or two to bake, but, the way things are falling this year I am only going to have one good full day to bake all of my cookies and I just knew that it wouldn’t be enough time due to the fact that I have a few other things to take care of that day as well. So, currently there are about 6 or 7 different batches of drop cookies in my freezer along with the dough for these Checkerboard Cookies . And, there is also a batch of Gingerbread People ready to be popped in the oven. I also went out and purchased some extra-large baking sheets. I am sure you have seen them, the Wilton Mega-Sized Baking Sheet. As you can tell, I am serious about baking these cookies in record time.

So, let’s talk about freezing cookie dough. Were or are some of you skeptical like me about it? Or, is it something you have been doing for years and are shocked to read my apprehension about it? The best cookies to freeze are drop cookies and slice and bake cookies. You can also freeze the dough for roll out cookies (sugar cookies, gingerbread people, etc.), but, I would suggest rolling out the dough and cutting it into your desired shapes first and then freezing it. That’s exactly what I did with the Gingerbread ones. Using a freezer-safe container, I lined it with two pieces of plastic wrap lengthwise and widthwise leaving a few inches of overhang. I layered the cookies in the containers making sure they were flat and placed a piece of parchment paper between each layer and on the top layer. Once filled, I wrapped the plastic wrap over the top layer making sure to press out any air. Topped the container with the cover and placed it in the freezer. You could freeze the entire disk of dough as well, but, I personally think that the time spent waiting for it to defrost would be better spent just making the dough to use immediately. My plan for these is to let them thaw a little and then press mini M&M’s into them before baking and then ultimately decorating them with royal icing.

 

Back to the drop cookies and slice and bake variety…. For the drop cookies I simply made the dough, rolled the dough into balls (scooping it with a cookie scoop) and then placed it on a baking sheet. Since the dough was going in the freezer and not in the oven I was able to place the dough really close together on the baking sheet. I just made sure none of them were touching which could ultimately lead to them freezing together. I then placed the sheet in the freezer for a few hours until the dough was thoroughly frozen. Once frozen, I transferred the dough to a freezer-safe plastic zip bag. I labeled the outside of the bag with the type of cookie it was. Since I wasn’t planning on leaving it in the freezer too long I opted not to include the date, oven temperature and baking time on the bag as well. The suggested length of time for leaving dough in the freezer is 3 months. I actually baked a batch of one of the cookies this weekend and I am happy to say it was a success. To bake them, I placed the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet 1 to 2 inches apart and increase the suggested baking time by 1 to 2 minutes to account for the dough being frozen. The cookies baked perfectly and tasted like I had just made the dough that morning. That’s really what my fear was (and still is to a certain extent), that the cookies will somehow have a weird flavor from the dough being frozen.

 

For the slice and bake cookies, you can follow your directions and form the dough into a log, wrap it in a few layers of plastic wrap, place it in a freezer-safe bag that has been labeled and then freeze it. It’s not necessary to refrigerate the dough prior to freezing as most slice and bake cookies require prior to slicing. To bake these cookies, let the dough sit at room temperature unwrapped for 10 to 15 minutes. The dough should feel cold to the touch, but soft enough that you will be able to slice it. Slice and bake per the directions, once again adding an additional minute or two to the time.

Since my test batch was a success I am little less unnerved by the process. Fingers crossed I will still be singing high praises come Sunday when I bake quite a few more batches.

Cookie Palooza: Key Lime Crinkles

How about some crinkles for Mr. Kringle? Sorry for corniness, but, I couldn’t resist. While crinkles are customarily a chocolate cookie I decided to switch things up a bit and bring you Key Lime Crinkles for the last cookie of Cookie Palooza week. And in case you didn’t know, crinkles are a drop cookie that is rolled in confectioners’ sugar prior to baking. The sugar draws moisture out of the cookie while it’s baking allowing the cookie to crack and dry out. Leaving the exterior of the cookie with a bit of a crust and the interior soft and yummy. This key lime version is a great cookie for someone who wants something sweet but not with all the decadence of chocolate.

The search for these cookies came about because I recently asked some friends what cookie they wanted for Christmas and one friend said rugelach and a key lime pie. So, I started searching for key lime cookies since I wasn’t planning on making a pie during my weekend of cookie baking in a few weeks. The first cookie I came across was a thumbprint cookie that actually has a key lime filling, I was all set to make that one for Christmas and then I came across this recipe and decided that I would share this recipe with you as my final cookie for Cookie Palooza week. While I normally share a no-bake cookie as my final cookie, I just couldn’t find one this year that I liked 100%. My friend who wants the key lime pie tried these and he said that while they are good and they do have the key lime flavor he likes, he was hoping for a key lime filling, a la the aforementioned thumbprint cookie. So, I will be making the pie after all since that is quicker and easier than the cookies.

It may be hard to find key limes this time of year, so, you can use bottled key lime juice. I usually find this key lime juice in the baking aisle of my supermarket. This is the same juice I use to make my key lime pie when I am short on time to squeeze key limes, or they are not available at my supermarket. In all honesty, I’ve made key lime pie with fresh limes and with this juice and the taste is exactly the same. And if all else fails, you can use regular limes. I actually used the zest of a regular lime in this recipe. And speaking of zest, if you want more of a lime flavor I suggest adding in more zest. I would avoid adding in more lime juice as that will alter the consistency of your dough.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Cookie Palooza 2018 as much as I enjoyed baking the cookies and bringing you the recipes. Check back next week for Holiday Cake Week. I’ve also got some other Holiday treats hitting the blog soon as well… Chocolate Covered Pretzels, Slow Cooker Spiced Nuts (they are really Candied Nuts) and a Chocolate Truffle Cookie (which I initially was thinking would be cookie #5 for this week).

 

Key Lime Crinkles

  • Servings: 30 cookies
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Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon key lime zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon key lime juice

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, zest and salt.

In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one. Mix in the lime juice.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until just combined. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl.

One chilled, use a cookie scoop to scoop the dough and roll into balls and then roll in the confectioners’ sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the cookie begin to brown along the edges.

Cool on the pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Bake or Break

Cookie Palooza: Cranberry Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Welcome to day 4 of Cookie Palooza. Today’s cookie is basically a kitchen sink cookie. Don’t worry, there are no food scraps in this cookie, but, there are a bunch of add-ins, hence the kitchen sink analogy. There are pecans, dried cranberries, semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, oatmeal and coconut. And while I know many people are not a fan of coconut (it seems people either love it or hate it) don’t fear, this cookie does not have a coconut flavor. The coconut adds texture to the cookie. And I am sure I may have lost some of you already as I know people are not always fond of a cookie with texture, especially a cookie like this that already has so much going on, but, trust me, all of the ingredients work so well together you will forget that there may be an ingredient or two you don’t like. Unless you have an allergy to one of them of course.

I got this recipe from Food Network’s 50 Chocolate Chip Cookies, and while there were quite a few among those 50 that sounded yummy I opted to make this one because it reminded me of another cookie I like to make around the holidays, a White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookie, that I just realized I have never posted about. I’ll have to do that this holiday season as I am sure I will be making it again. Something I did realize though going through some old posts, I need to stop taking pictures at night. Unfortunately I do a lot of baking at night, but, I will have to refrain from taking picture then because they just do not post well.

The recipe called for 1/4 cupfuls of dough (about an ice cream scoop size) to make about 10 cookies, I opted to use a cookie scoop to make mine. Which yielded about 30 cookies. A nice amount to gift or to have on hand for a holiday guests.

 

 

Cranberry Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2/3 cup milk chocolate chips

2/3 cup old fashioned oats

2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut

2/3 cup dried cranberries

2/3 cup chopped pecans

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Using a cookie scoop, drop the dough 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until set around the edges. Let cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheets then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Food Network

Cookie Palooza – Lemon Ricotta Cookies

Lemon Ricotta… A flavor combination I first had in the form of pancakes and was instantly hooked so when I saw a cookie recipe using the two I knew I had to try it. A few things to note, these cookies are soft, almost cake-like. They kind of remind me of muffies – aka the top of a muffin. And while I am not one for glazes, I usually leave my baked good unglazed when a recipe calls for it, these cookies definitely need the glaze. Not because they are not delish without it – I tried one before glazing and it was good as is – but when I added the glaze the lemon flavor was kicked up a notch, but, not to the point that it was overbearing.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies Lemon Glaze

  • Servings: 40 cookies
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Ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 15 oz. container whole milk ricotta cheese

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)

1 lemon, zested

 

Glaze:

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 lemon, zested

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375F.

In medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beat the mixture well so all of the ingredients are incorporate.

Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice & zest. Beat to combine and then stir in the dry ingredients (the flour mixture.)

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough – about 2 tablespoons for each cookie – onto the baking sheets. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden. Remove from the oven and the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 20 minutes.

During the 20 minutes make the glaze: Combine the all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to smooth the glaze over the cookie. Let the cookies sit for 2 hours so the glaze can harden.

Recipe from Food Network