Friday, March 30, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

Recipe from Our Best Bites
My husband has been begging me for awhile now to make some "homemade oreos."  I checked out a few recipes and decided to try this one. The ingredients were simple items that I already had on hand and the option for peppermint flavor in the filling sounded sooo yummy.  Well, these cookies definitely did not disappoint!  Check out Our Best Bites for some darling ideas for Christmas cookies using this recipe.  I know we are far from Christmas, but for me, peppermint and chocolate are a year-round treat!

1 1/2 cups flour, lightly spooned into measuring cups and leveled (don't scoop)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp table salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
5 Tbsp real butter
1 Tbsp water
1 large egg lightly beaten

1/2 cup real butter (1 stick)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 -1 tsp peppermint extract
milk, as needed for consistency
optional: red or green food coloring and sprinkles or crushed candy canes

To make cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Heat chocolate chips, brown sugar, 5 tablespoons butter and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until melted and smooth (there will still be grains of sugar though).  Transfer mixture to a a large bowl and beat in egg.  Stir in flour mixture until just combined.  Don't overmix.  

If dough is too soft to work with, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to firm up, or place in the fridge for a few minutes. Gently roll balls, either 1 tablespoon full for large cookies or about 1/2 inch balls for silver dollar sized cookies.  Place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Bake cookies until just puffed in the middle and edges are set but centers and still soft - about 8-9 minutes for large cookies and about 5 minutes for small ones.  If using 2 cookies sheets, rotate them halfway through baking. Cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheets and then transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.  

To make filling, beat all frosting ingredients together, adding peppermint extract to taste.  Add milk one teaspoonful at a time until a spreadable but not too soft consistency is reached.  Add food coloring if desired.  Place frosting in a zip-top bag and cut off a corner*. Pipe filling onto one side of cookie and place another on top. Roll edges in sprinkles or crushed candy canes if desired.  

Yield:  If you used a tablespoon of dough, this recipe will yield 1 1/2 dozen large sandwiches.  If you use a quarter of a standard cookie scoop (about a rounded teaspoon) it will yield 4-5 dozen.

*Tip:  To easily load the frosting into your zip-top bag, place bag over the top of a cup with the top of the bag folded out over the lip of the cup.  Hold the bag in place over the cup with one hand while scooping the frosting into it with the other.  A lot less mess!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Apricot Bread

recipe slightly adapted from The Recipe Niche

Okay, I'm back after a very long hiatus.  I pretty much stopped posting recipes when I ran out of natural light at night (when I do most of my cooking) and my pictures looked atrocious.  I have my light back now (yea! - thank you daylight savings) and am ready to share some awesome recipes with you!  Last summer I canned some apricots and have realized over the winter, that I really don't like canned apricots. They are very tart and need to be sweetened quite a bit for me to enjoy them.  I preserved them in a very light syrup and it was not enough to make them enjoyable for me.  I did do some apricot freezer jam at the same time and that is deelish, but I have been trying to find some recipes to use these big ole jars of canned apricots that I have.  And today.... we have a winner!  Apricot quick bread.  It is really yummy and can I just say... I think some muffins made out of the same batter with little cream cheese frosting spread on top would be unbelievable.  Okay... here is the recipe!

1 cup apricot halves (pureed)
2 cups flour sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cups nuts chopped (of course, we don't do nuts at our house, but throw them in if you are a nutty household!)
2/3 c sugar
1/3 c butter
2 eggs
3 Tbsp orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Drain apricots and reserve the syrup.  Puree apricots in a blender or food processor.  Add enough of the reserved syrup to pureed apricots to make 1 cup.  Combine dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl or in your stand mixer, cream together butter, sugar and eggs.  Add orange juice and apricot puree and mix.  Add flour mixture and mix well.  Pour batter into a greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let loaf cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on wire rack.