Category Archives: Cookies

Cookie Butter Rugelach

If the title of this post has left you shaking your head, wondering what the heck I am writing about, let me enlighten you.coffee and rugelach 625 sqI wrote about cookie butter last year. It is also known as Speculoos or Biscoff spread. Basically, we are talking about ground up spicy gingerbread cookies, mixed with additional sugar and oil, to create, a somewhat addictive spread, in the vein of peanut butter and Nutella.

Rugelach is a small Jewish pastry, of Eastern European origin. Traditionally they are made in the form of a crescent by rolling a triangle of dough around a filling. The origin of the name comes from the Polish word “Rog” which is the prefix for horn, (croissant shaped pastries kind of look like horns). “El” is used as a diminutive and the “Ach” ending indicates plural. So put together we have horn shaped little pastries –Rugelach.hazelnutsHow this little cookie came to be made in a crescent shape is an interesting story. I have read several versions, but this is my favourite. In the 16th Century, the Jews were living under the rule of the brutal Ottoman Empire. Life was not easy for them. A baker with a warped sense of humour, decided to create little pastries, shaped like the crescent that decorated the Ottoman war flags. With every bite of these delicious little noshes, the Jews imagined that they were “chewing out” their merciless oppressors.

Back in Europe, the dough for rugelach is light, airy and yeast raised. Somehow, when it arrived in North America, it transformed into a dense cream cheese based dough. This is the rugelach I grew up with and love. Rich and flaky, but not too sweet, the best rugelach let the dough be the star and the fillings play a supporting role.

Most often they are filled with jam, cinnamon-sugar, raisins and nuts. Often chocolate is thrown into the mix. Screwing with a 500 year old cookie could be a dangerous thing, but I like to live on the edge, so I played around with the traditional recipe and spread mine with Cookie Butter instead of jam.

The dough is simple to put together. I used the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for the dough, with the addition of some cinnamon and ground ginger to mimic the gingerbread flavour of the cookie butter. The butter and cream cheese must be very cold.dough ingredientsmaking dough 1Only process the dough until it resembles small curd cottage cheese. Don’t let the processor form the dough into a ball, or you will have tough rugelach. pulsed doughdivide dough into 48.5 inch circleI decided to make two varieties. The first, shaped in the traditional crescent, featured Cookie Butter and toasted chopped hazelnuts.spreading cookie butter on circlesprinkling hazelnutscutting into wedgesrolling crescentsbrushing with eggThese got treated to a shower of cinnamon sugar as soon as they came out of the oven. dust with cinnamon sugarFor the second variation I created little roulades. The dough was rolled into a rectangle, filled with cookie butter and chopped chocolate, and rolled and sliced, before baking. 11 x 7 inch rectanglespreading cookie butter on rectanglesprinkling chocolaterolling rouladeslicing roulades

brushing roulades with eggCB and chocolate roulades

Click here to print recipe for Cookie Butter and Hazelnut Rugelach.

3 rugelach

Click here to print recipe for Cookie Butter and Chocolate Rugelach Roulades.

Roulades

Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

xoxoxo 2I love surprises. Well, I should clarify. I like good surprises, like finding out the sex of my babies, at the moment of their birth. Three of the greatest surprises of my life! It makes me sad that people have reveal parties and choose to forgo that moment of awe. A little too much over-sharing for my liking. Ok, social media rant over. Onto more important things.

Happy Valentines Day! We don’t make a big deal out of Valentines Day in our house, but I’d never say no to a little sweet treat. While many people believe the day should be marked with chocolate, I’m much more of a coconut –caramel kind of girl. But sometimes a little bit of chocolate is necessary.cookies on little heart towel 625 sqThese cookies contain a little surprise. Along with the usual chunks of bittersweet chocolate, I mixed a big handful of  Valrhona chocolate pearls into the dough. Little nuggets of crispy rice cereal enrobed in milk chocolate are totally unexpected but very welcome in a chocolate chip cookie. I ordered mine online. Callebaut also makes chocolate pearls. Their salted caramel crispearls  are kind of astonishing (crunchy biscuit bits coated in salted caramel). If you can’t find them, chopped up maltasers or whoppers would make an excellent substitute. My friend Marla would love them!Chocolate pearlsCan we talk about butter for a minute? Specifically, what does “room temperature” butter mean? How long a rest on the counter are we talking about here? When I’m baking, I’ll take the butter from the fridge first, slice it into 1/4 inch pieces. By the time I’ve gathered all the other ingredients, the butter will be perfect for creaming. Ten minutes is really all it takes. You want it to still be cool, but pliable. The whole point of creaming the butter with the sugar is to beat air into the dough. If your butter gets too warm, it won’t hold that air and you will end up with flat cookies.ButterAn ice cream scoop makes for even sized cookies.scooping cookiesA light sprinkling of sea salt on top of each cookie before baking, because that’s how we roll around here. This is salt and serenity after all!sprinkling saltstacked on red cake plate 2

Click here to print recipe for Crunchy Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

cookies on big heart towel 2

On the 8th night of Chanukah: Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Squares

On the eighth, and final night of Chanukah I gave my true love Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Squares. Reminiscent of peanut butter cups, but way better because of the crunchy, salty pretzel crust. And, the best part is that they don’t have to be baked!stacked upThis recipe was given to me by my friend Mrs. Dolphin. I’ve granted her this nickname because she shares numerous traits with porpoises. Dolphins are very social animals and excellent communicators. They are friendly, clever and natural performers. Mrs. Dolphin enjoys a very busy and complicated social life. She is charismatic, fun loving and was born to be on the stage. She is very organized and excels in creative problem solving. squares on white boardMrs. Dolphin found this recipe in the food section of the Ottawa Citizen. It was inspired by Trisha Yearwood’s No-Bake Chocolate-Pretzel-Peanut Butter Squares. (Yes, the country singer Trisha Yearwood. Did you know she has a show on The Food Network?)  I took the recipe one step further and made the top layer more lavish, with a marbleized bittersweet and white chocolate topping, because really, we all need more fancy in our lives!what you'll need

making crustpressing crust into panchocolate toppingMarbleizing looks very impressive but it’s simple to do. Here is a video showing you the technique. The video is from my The Ultimate S’mores post, but the method of creating a marble pattern is still the same.

marbelizing chocolate toppingjpg

Click here to print recipe for Mrs. Dolphin’s Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Squares.

Perfect with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee. The awesome drip coffee stand is from Restoration Hardware. I bought it for my husband because his plastic Melita cone offends my aesthetic sensibilities. with drip coffee

On the 7th night of Chanukah: Florentines

On the 7th night of Chanukah I baked my true love Florentines. Thin, crispy, lacy, delicate and just drop dead gorgeous! I will warn you that these cookies are a bit of a pain in the ass to make. They require a candy thermometer and you will need to temper the chocolate for them, but they are so pretty (and delicious), that I think they’re worth the effort. on wire dish 5 x 5Ever since I watched Anna create these on her show “Bake with Anna Olsen,” I became obsessed with making them. I have made similar lacy cookies with oats , but these are something totally different.what you'll needThese are essentially an almond cookie. Sliced almonds get coarsely crushed. rolling almondsHoney, cream and sugar are cooked until they reach 244°F.cooking batterThe almonds get mixed into the batter and then the cookies are formed and baked. flattening cookiesmaking perfect circlesThe baked cookies are quite fragile, so they get a coating of melted chocolate on one side, to give them some extra strength. brushing florentines with chocolateThe cookies can then be embellished further, by placing the wet chocolate side of the cookie onto a chocolate transfer sheet. This is an acetate sheet embossed with cocoa butter and powdered food colouring. Once the chocolate hardens, you peel the cookie off the sheet and the design transfers to the chocolate, producing a stunning pattern. They come in a wide variety of designs. There are many different online sources for them.peeling florentine off chocolate transfer sheet

Click here to print recipe for Florentine Cookies.

florentines on slate tile with wire dishThe possibilities are endless with Florentine cookies.

Emily, at a counter space created Potato Chip Florentines.

Sarah at strawberryplum made Pistachio, Orange and Honey Florentines.

Stella over at bravetart crafted Cocoa Nib Florentines,

On the fourth night of Chanukah: Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookies

On the fourth night of Chanukah, I baked Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookies for my true love. Crispy at the edges, chewy in the center, filled with abundant pockets of gooey chocolate and topped with a light sprinkling of coarse sea salt to balance the sweetness. stacked on white cake stand 2I can’t take credit for creating these fabulous cookies. That place of honour goes to Ashley of the wonderful blog “Not Without Salt.” I blogged about these cookies before, when I first made them in 2011. I don’t usually blog about the same recipe twice, but I wanted to share them again, in case you missed them the first time around. (Plus, my original photos did them no justice!) They’re that good! If you’re not a baker, but still want to try them, Ashley sells them in a cookie mix.

Since that time I have tried many other chocolate chunk cookies, but I have yet to find another recipe that is as outstanding as this one. What makes this recipe unique is the use of 3 kinds of sugar. White sugar makes the cookies crisp, brown sugar contributes to their chewy center, and  coarse Turbinado sugar gives them a delicate crunch. Are you still sitting there reading? Let’s bake!what you'll needI have tried making these cookies with regular supermarket chocolate chips, and they are quite good, but if you are making them for someone you really want to impress, thank, or just say, “I love you”, make them with Valrhona Guanaja Feves. (those big chocolate oval discs in the photo above). They are pricey and you need to buy them online, but they are worth it. Slightly bitter, with hints of fruit, coffee and molasses, this is a complex, big flavoured chocolate. mixing doughThe larger chocolate chunks create majestic pockets of gooey chocolate, so if you’re into that sort of pleasure, go for the good chocolate! Personally, I don’t care for warm from the oven cookies. I much prefer them frozen. I have trained my family and friends to love them that way as well, so when they come to visit, everyone heads straight for the freezer to see what’s freshly baked (and frozen!). cooling on parchment paper 2 625 sq

Click here to print recipe for The Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookie.

stacked on white cake stand 1