Monday, August 25, 2014

#5 ~ Peanut-Chocolate Cookies ~ New Zealand (page 247)

It seemed high time I baked some cookies with chocolate so I chose this recipe which in New Zealand is referred to as "brownies" because of the brown colour of the cookies, but obviously not a brownie as we know it here in North America.

This is a simple drop cookie - lots of chopped peanuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips mixed into a chocolate dough. The chocolate chips are optional but I'm glad I added them because I think the cookies would have been kind of bland otherwise.

It couldn't be easier and you end up with mounds of not-overly-sweet, delicious cookies like this -

You can't go wrong with chocolate and peanuts, that's for sure. The recipe yields about 30 cookies so I'm pretty sure that none of these will be going into the freezer!

Next Up: Chocolate-Orange Sandwich Wafers

Monday, August 18, 2014

#4 ~ Coconut Crunchies ~ England (page 99)

Well, the finished appearance of this week's cookie pales in comparison with last week's, that's for sure! There's nothing fancy about these at all. This is the recipe that I had pinned my hopes on being very similar to the cookie I tried at Fort Edmonton Park, but sadly I've been disappointed.

The ingredients of coconut and oatmeal seemed much like what I tasted there, but these cookies don't quite have the same buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture that I was anticipating. Oh well, they are good just the same and I'm thinking that maybe if I had just squished the dough very thin on a cookie sheet and baked it until it was really golden brown then broken it into pieces once baked (instead of forming rounds) it might have come closer to what I was expecting. Maybe I'll try that someday.

Anyway, the recipe is really easy compared to the last two I've made so that was a nice break. Three simple steps to start off with - 1) combine dry ingredients, 2) process oatmeal and coconut in food processor and 3) cream butter and sugars together. Then simply mix the oatmeal mixture into the butter and follow by doing the same with the flour mixture. 

Form into balls, squish with your hand and bake.

Sweet, crunchy cookies with a definite coconut taste to them. The recipe book says, "A coconut tea biscuit prepared by a commercial bakery in Derbyshire, England inspired this recipe. These simple but delicious cookies have a crunchy-crisp texture, golden color, and a light yet satisfying coconut flavor." And that's exactly what they are.

 Next Up: Peanut-Chocolate Cookies

Monday, August 11, 2014

#3 ~ Brown Sugar-Peanut Bars ~ Columbia (page 72)

This week's recipe comes from Columbia. The original name is "Cucas", an old recipe which has been updated in this book to feature caramelized peanuts to bring out the peanutty flavour and give the cookies some extra crunch. There was nothing complicated in making these cookies but once again they were a bit time-consuming as there were several steps involved.

First a simple brown sugar dough is prepared, refrigerated and then cut into rectangles with a pastry cutter. The bake time is fairly short so it doesn't take long before the cookies are cooling on the rack.

Ready for the Oven

Next the chopped peanuts are caramelized. This was my first attempt at caramelizing something and I was so afraid to burn the sugar that I think I should have cooked the peanuts much longer than I did. They didn't end up having that nice caramel colour but they did turn out crunchy with a nice sweet flavour because of the sugar. While the peanuts are cooling, the brown sugar icing is mixed. I followed the recipe exactly and the icing was very dry so I added some extra butter. It was still hard to spread and I didn't have enough to ice all of the cookies. If I made these again I would probably add some water to soften it more.

And finally, the cookies are spread with icing and topped with peanuts.

Super-sweet Peanutty Goodness

These cookies are sweet! Good, but sweet, and since I'm not much of an icing lover, eating one made me feel like I was on sugar overload. I really enjoyed the texture and flavour of the cookie itself and think it would be great just on its own with a cup of tea.

Next Up: Coconut Crunchies

Monday, August 4, 2014

#2 ~ Orange-Date Pinwheels ~ United States (page 56)

Another recipe from the United States this week but I chose this one for the simple reason that I had some dates which needed to be used. This recipe is a bit time consuming with a dough and a filling that need to be prepared separately before rolling them up jelly roll style and then slicing for baking. There's also a lot of wait time since the dough needs to be refrigerated at various points during the process.

The dough was simple enough to make using my stand mixer and is nicely flavoured with orange zest and a touch of cinnamon. While it was chilling in the fridge I prepared the filling on the stovetop, cooking chopped dates with orange juice, orange zest, cinnamon and brown sugar. Once the mixture has softened, chopped walnuts are stirred in.

The chilled dough is rolled out, spread with the cooled filling and rolled up tightly like a jelly roll. I learned the hard way that I should have chopped the dates much smaller than I did in order to make it easier to spread the filling over the dough. Oh well, live and learn.

The dough log is gently stretched out to make it longer, cut in half, and then each of those logs is further stretched. You end up with two 14-inch logs which are then refrigerated for another 2 hours so they will be firm and easy to slice. Once the dough logs have firmed up enough they are cut into 1/4-inch slices and baked.

They don't really look much like pinwheels but I know they'll taste great just the same!

Once out of the oven I sampled a few cookies and they were quite nice. They're crispy as you bite into them but are softer in the center because of the dates. The flavour of the dates and orange really come through but the walnuts are very subtle. These would be perfect with a cup of Orange Blossom tea!

Making these cookies took up several chunks of my day but the recipe did yield a large batch of 73 cookies so there's plenty to enjoy now and lots to freeze for later. Definitely worth the time and effort.

Next Up: Brown Sugar Peanut Bars