Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pumpkin Kiss-Stuffed Molasses Cookies

This is a Pumpkin Spice Hershey's Kiss wrapped in a soft, spiced molasses cookie. It is awesome! I bought a bag of the pumpkin kisses at Target and started thinking about what I could make with them. I had a peanut butter blossom type cookie in mind, then a flash of inspiration hit. The pumpkin kiss is good, but really sweet. Perfect with the spiciness of a molasses cookie. I searched online for a version of what I had in mind, but came up with nothing. So I may have invented this, which is fun. 

Of course, there are recipes for cookies filled with Hershey's kisses, but not this particular combo. I have a great homemade molasses cookie recipe, but all that work PLUS wrapping the dough around kisses sounded awfully time consuming. So, for the very first time, I tried a store-bough cookie mix. It turned out great. Based on some internet research, I decided to add a little extra flour to keep the cookies from spreading too much. Even still, they must be very cold when they go into the oven. And as a good molasses cookie should, these stay soft (provided you don't over bake them) for up to a week, and they freeze perfectly. 

Pumpkin Kiss-Stuffed Molasses Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

1 bag Betty Crocker molasses cookie 
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg
About 30 Pumpkin Spice Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped
Turbinado or other coarse sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cookie mix and flour on low speed until combined. Add butter and egg and beat on medium speed until combined to form a thick dough. Wrap slightly rounded tablespoon-sized scoops of dough around the kisses. Shape dough into a slight peak around the top of the kiss and slightly flatten the bottom so the dough sits upright. Transfer to a zip top bag or any type of container or dish and refrigerate until very cold, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put a few tablespoons of turbinado sugar in a small bowl. Take half the dough out of the refrigerator. Press into sugar, getting it to stick as well as possible and place on baking sheet. Bake until dough is set around the edges, 8 to 9 minutes (perhaps under baking slightly). Cool on baking sheet 3 minutes, then transfer to a rack and cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pan Roasted Shisito Peppers

Shisitos are small Japanese peppers, and they seem to be everywhere lately. I've seen them on multiple restaurant appetizer menus, whether the place serves Asian fare or otherwise. The flesh is thinner than a jalepeno, and the heat level is mostly mild. According to wikipedia, about 1 in 10 are spicy. It's kind of fun to bite into the occasional fiery one.

I found them at the farmers' market this year, and have been buying them a lot. They make for an easy side dish. I've seen them grilled, but it's super simple to put them in a hot, heavy skillet and cook them until they brown and soften. You can flavor them any way you want, but they would be delicious with nothing but sea salt. Have you ever tried shisitos?

Pan-Roasted Shisito Peppers
You needn't be precise here. It's nice if you can fit all your peppers in a skillet in a single layer, but cook as many as you want and season at will.

1 tablespoon canola oil or cooking spray
Shisito peppers (see recipe head note)
Soy sauce
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sesame oil
Sesame seeds

Heat oil on medium-high heat in a large heavy skillet (such as cast iron) or coat generously with cooking spray. Add  peppers and cook, tossing occasionally until skin softens and browns. Add a few splashes of soy sauce (enough to thinly coat the skillet) and cook, stirring, until nearly evaporated. Transfer to a serving bowl. Add sesame oil and sesame  seeds and stir to combine.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Chewy White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Two cookie posts in a row! Have I totally given up on veggies and devolved into a mouth-foaming, crazy-eyed sugar fiend? Rest assured, that was not my fate. I love making cookies (or bars) for my husband to take when he travels for work. So portable. So delicious.

These are the ultimate version of this popular cookie (for me anyway!). I got the recipe straight off Serious Eats, a food site that offers up tons of original recipes every week for things I always seem to want to eat right this minute (by the way, I have no relationship with Serious Eats...I just like it). The writer of this recipe promised a soft-in-the-center, chewy-on-the-caramelized-golden-edges kind of cookie, and she definitely delivered. 

I love these. I forgot how good macadamia nuts are! A little pricey, but worth it. If you loved the Mrs. Field's or Otis Spunkmeyer version of this cookie back in the day. Make these! So much better. I wrote the recipe in my own words with the tiny minor changes I made, but check out the Cookie Monster column on Serious Eats for the original and more great recipes. PS, use really good chocolate (more on that below)!

Chewy White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
Adapted from Serious Eats
As far as changes go, I toasted the nuts (at 350F for 7 to 10 minutes, shaking once or twice), doubled the vanilla, chilled the dough (it must be very cold or it will spread more than you want it to) and made smaller cookies. Make them any size you want and bake a little longer, keeping a close eye out for any sign of over baking. I used Green & Blacks white chocolate bar, which is very tasty with little vanilla bean flecks. The gram measurement for the flour is based on Serious Eats' recipes which seem to use 5 oz flour per cup.

Yet another note: This is a really nice dough. I used some of it, minus the white chocolate and macadamia nuts to make some oatmeal raisin cookies, and they were awesome. I didn't measure anything; I add rolled oats, raisins and cinnamon until the dough was thick. I chilled it and baked until the edges were golden. They barely spread (flatten slightly for a rounder cookie) and were soft in the center, which I prefer.

Makes 24 to 32 cookies, depending on size

1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (73 grams) light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 ounces white chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup macadamia nuts, toasted and roughly chopped

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined. Add flour mixture and beat on lowest speed until just incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add chocolate and nuts and beat on lowest speed until just combined or still in by hand if using a handheld mixer. Cover dough and refrigerate until very cold, preferably 2 hours or more.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place rounded-tablespoon-sized balls on parchment about 2 inches apart. Immediately return unused dough to refrigerator or freezer. If it is not cold, cookies will spread too much. Bake in the center of the oven until edges and bottoms of cookies are just barely golden, 8 to 9 minutes. If ever there was a cookie to slightly under bake, this is it. Cool on baking sheet 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough.