Thursday, 13 February 2014

Chocolate Kiss Cookies

As a romantic, I have always been a big fan of Valentines Day.  A day wholly dedicated to the celebration of love and chocolate?  Yes, please.  This year marks the 11th anniversary of our first date.  My husband-to-be made dinner (even bought wine glasses for the occasion) and for the grand finale, he baked heart-shaped shortbread cookies.  Hook, line, and sinker.  Lovey-dovey cards, sparkling wine, chocolate, cinnamon hearts and a chick flick - it's the second best day of the year (after my birthday, of course).

If that is not enough, Valentines is the perfect excuse to bake pretty pink sugar cookies with chocolate kisses stuffed inside : )

Happy Valentines Day!

Chocolate Kiss Cookies
adapted from Love and Olive Oil 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese, cut into cubes
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
25-30 Chocolate Kisses
coloured granulated sugar

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Mix sugar, cream cheese, and melted butter in a large bowl. Add oil, egg, milk, and vanilla extract and whisk until mixture is smooth. Fold in flour mixture and mix until well combined.

Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate it for 1-2 hours (I left mine overnight).
Scoop out about 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp of dough, create a small indent in the centre and stick the pointy end of the chocolate kiss inside, wrapping the dough around it in a ball.  Press some granulated sugar on top (I tried rolling the cookie in the sugar, but it didn't adhere very well).  Place dough balls on baking sheet, leaving space in between for cookie expansion.  Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Makes about 25-30 cookies (I made 28).  My cookie balls were on the large side, and with the kiss inside it took a little longer to bake.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Maple Butter Brown Sugar Muffins

Snowed In.  Well, not really.  We have just received more snow in the past few days than in living memory. Well, I suppose that is not entirely accurate either.  At any rate, it's a LOT of SNOW.   When you have this much snow, you expend more energy, right?  Energy shovelling the dang blasted driveway, energy plowing through snow drifts walking the dog, energy getting anywhere while walking in 4 inches of slush.

With all this extra energy being consumed, it's important to ensure that a good stock of energy is in store. Energy out requires energy in.  It's as simple as that.  Enter Maple Butter Brown Sugar Muffins.

I made these with maple butter (which is really just maple syrup in a smooth spreadable format) which can easily be substituted for maple syrup.  The brown sugar is added to the flour mixture and not the butter and egg mixture on purpose - it creates little lumps of flour coated sugar which will turn into little brown sugar pockets in the muffin.

Maple Butter Brown Sugar Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup maple butter
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl.

Mix together milk, melted butter, yogurt, egg, vanilla and maple butter in a separate bowl, then add to the flour mixture.

Spoon into paper lined muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.  Makes 12 muffins.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Boozy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

This has been my comfort food for the past 2 weeks. My husband and I have been sniffling, coughing, and sneezing through January - and this heartening (definition: cheerfully encouraging) banana bread is aiding our recuperation, along with the most amazing lotion-enfused tissues (whoever invented these is my hero), gallons of tea, buckets of water and litres of orange juice.   We'll get there, one bite at a time.

I add 2 tbsp of dark rum to my bread, and I can discern a gentle rum flavour and scent.  The original recipe calls for 3 tbsp of booze (bourbon, to be exact).  Why not?  It's for medicinal purposes, after all.

Boozy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
adapted from Joy the Baker

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
3 bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 cup plus one handful semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl.  Set aside.
Blend butter and sugar with a hand mixer until smooth.   Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Add in sugar, mashed bananas, and rum (or bourbon, or canadian rye - whatever floats your boat).  Continue to mix with hand-mixer until well combined.  Add flour mixture - mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until incorporated, and finally add 1 cup of chocolate chips (after eating a handful, naturally).  

Pour into a well greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes.