CHOCOLATE SALAMI

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. I'm happy to have witnessed Per's lifelong dream of seeing the Sounders win the MLS Championship come true. When Torres made the last penalty kick, Per just sat frozen and misty-eyed. I think it's still sinking in. Per's ride or die.

Fun fact: I consider Per and my first date to be when he took me to a Sounders game. It was a gesture of sharing something dear to him. Prior to that we were strangers/roommates via a mutual friend. Yuuup, we did that. More on that later.

Another fun fact: At the last Sounders game I attended, I got a bag of kettle corn the size of a small child. In the shuffling herd of spectators leaving the stadium, the only other person with a kettle corn bag as empty as mine was a pregnant woman. Yup, I do that.

So what's chocolate salami? If you aren't ready mole-spiced cured meats, don't worry, because there is no meat involved. It's really just a truffle that's loaded with cookie bits, nuts, and dried fruit and shaped like a log of salami. This one is spumoni-flavored with dried cherries and pistachios. I flavored the dark chocolate truffle base with coffee and amaretto, which also played off of the toasted almond biscotti chunks. It's classy in flavor but casual in preparation. Super easy, super tasty :)

Chocolate Salami

17.6 oz dark chocolate (It's just the weight ofone of those giant Trader Joe's blocks of chocolate. You can totally deviate within an ounce or so from this kind of random measurement.)

9 oz cookies of your choosing (I find that a drier cookie works best, but we'll be toasting the cookie bits anyway. I used almond biscotti to go with the amaretto.)

1 cup pistachios

2/3 cup dried cherries

9 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons cold brew or regular coffee ( I usually have cold brew around and prefer the flavor in baking)

3 tablespoons amaretto

1/2 cup powdered sugar

*twine (optional for decoration)

Chop your cookie pieces and spread them on a baking sheet. Add your nuts to the baking sheet. Toast the cookie bits and nuts in an oven heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-8 minutes, stirring them halfway through the baking time. Let cool completely.

Melt your chocolate in a large bowl, either via a double-boiler or in 25-second intervals in a microwave on medium power. Add the butter. Stir until smooth. Stir in coffee and amaretto to combine. Add nuts, cookie bits, and cherries, making sure everything is coated with the chocolate mixture. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm but malleable.

Line your work surface with 2 sheets of plastic wrap that are 20 inches long. Divide the chocolate mixture between the two pieces of plastic wrap. Using a spatula, shape the chocolate mixture into logs. Roll up the logs in the plastic, twisting the plastic at the ends of the logs. Refrigerate the logs until firm, about an hour.

Coat your work surface with the powdered sugar. Remove the logs from the plastic wrap, placing them on the sugared work surface. Coat your chocolate salami in powdered sugar.

At this point, you can either let your chocolate salami soften at room temperature and slice it to serve, or you can add an extra bit of flair to your chocolate salami presentation by wrapping it in salami netting. It's really easy to do, so I recommend taking the extra step.

To lace up your salami, cut a piece of string at least six times the length of your salami. With one end of the string, tie a loop around the circumference of one end of your salami, sealing it with a knot. With the remaining string, create a series of loops along the length of the salami connected by one long spine of string. As you close each loop, pull the string forward along the length of the salami to create the netting's spine. Twist each new loop through the spine.  Continue until you reach the other end. Seal the final loop with another knot. Hey, we did it!

CARDAMOM BROWN BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

When I was 6, I wrote a letter to Santa. I was an excellent speller and quite proud of my formatting. At the very top of my list, I asked for, like most little girls, the coveted Easy Bake Oven. The commercials worked their magic between my Nickelodeon programming. The Easy Bake Oven represented an empowering way for a kid like me to create something fun and delicious. Er maybe I just wanted the brownies and cookies. Anyway, come Christmas morning, there was no Easy Bake Oven. When I asked my parents, whom I entrusted with my letter to Santa, why Santa didn't bring me an Easy Bake Oven, I was told, through a chuckle, that Santa thought my request had been for an "easy bike". I got a bike that year. Asian Santa doesn't like chubby girls. I stopped writing to Santa. I don't fuck with shady.

That was unexpectedly sadder for me to write out. For the record, don't do that kinda ish to your daughters. I'm over it, promise. Adult me makes all the cookies I want. Like these!

I added my own spin on chocolate chip cookies by blooming a nice winter spice, cardamom, in some nutty, sweet brown butter. Your house is gonna smell bomb.

Ann :)

Cardamom Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup room temperature butter, divided
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 oz chocolate, chopped (I used half milk choc and half dark choc)
coarse sea salt (optional)

 

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup of the butter. After the butter melts, we want to cook off the water. The butter will start to foam andUse a rubber spatula to stir the butter, loosening any solids that form on the bottom of the pot. It helps to use a lighter colored saucepan. Swirl the pan occasionally to make sure the butter is browning evenly. Once the water cooks off and bubbles stop, the butter will deepen to an amber color and take on a nutty, toasted aroma. Stir in the cardamom and cinnamon to bloom in the hot butter. Swiftly, remove the butter from the heat. Pour the brown butter it into a small bowl. Let the brown butter cool at room temp until it solidifies again.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, cream the brown butter, remaining butter, brown sugar, and sugar on medium-high speed until light and smooth, about 5 minutes.

Add eggs and vanilla, beat for 1 more minute or until combined.

Add the dry mixture into the wet. Beat on low until everything is incorporated.

Use a spatula to fold in the chocolate.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight (or more).

Heat your oven to 375 degree Fahrenheit.

Scoop 1/4 cup portions of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them 3 inches apart. Bake for 10-14 minutes.

Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

GINGERBREAD COOKIES

We've officially just had our first, and probably only, dusting of snow here in Seattle. Whenever people in Seattle talk about the possibility of snow, eventually the Snowpocalypse of 2008 comes up. You see, people in Western Washington completely lose their shit when the slightest bit of snow sticks to the road. Back in 2008, we had a lil' baby snowstorm that snowed us all in, some of us without electricity, for two weeks. It must have only been a foot of snow. I remember being home on winter break from college, slowly losing my mind and commiserating with friends via Facebook Chat. I also remember seeing a video on FB of a pretty good song being played from a synthesizer next to a snowy windowsill. It turned out to be a classmate of mine from high school and college. He's famous and makes bank now. Life's weird.

While it's all wintry, let's get cozy with some gingerboos. Pants optional.
 

Gingerbread

2 1/4 c AP flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp clove
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 c dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 c molasses

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and dry spices.

Cream together butter and sugar in a stand mixer on medium speed, about 10 minutes.

Mix in egg, fresh ginger, and molasses until combined, about 2 minutes. Gradually mix in dry ingredients, adding in 3 parts, until combined. Shape the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill the dough for at least 3 hours.

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.

Flour a work surface. Place dough on surface and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes from dough. Place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Place gingerbread on the cookie sheets in the freezer fro 5 minutes before baking. This helps the gingerbread to maintain its shape.

Bake gingerbread for 8-10 minutes. I prefer my gingerbread chewy, so I err on the shorter baking time.

Let gingerbread cool until they hold their shape, about 3-5 minutes. Move gingerbread to cooling wrack to cool completely.

Decorate with royal icing. I used the recipe from The Joy of Baking.

HELLO REINDEER COOKIES

Wow I've been so busy that I just realized I haven't checked around the internets at all this week. That's gotta be criminal for a millennial, right? The news is generally all bad these days anyway. So glad to living in my PNW bubble. In the way of good news, I'm very late and pleased to have found out Patti LaBelle and her sweet potato pies got a show. I'm 'bout to do a binge of Patti LaBelle's Place and Martha and Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party tonight. I'm sorry, I'm painfully uninteresting this week :'(

Back to the cookies. Hello Reindeer is my take on my favorite of the Asian frosting biscuits, Hello Panda. It's not an exact replica. The dough is graham cookie dough, making this more like a self-contained Dunkaroo. I filled them with matcha and strawberry frostings to keep it Christmas-y, but I also had great results with Nutella. Feel free to customize these to your liking (I'm seeing hella cookie butters at Trader Joe's just fyi). Do you!


Hello Reindeer Cookies

Matcha Frosting Filling

1/2 cup white chocolate
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
4 tbsp cream
1 tsp matcha
1/8 tsp salt

Melt the white chocolate using a double boiler or in 15 second intervals in a microwave set to medium power. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Stir in white chocolate until combined. Add cream, matcha, and salt until combined.

Strawberry Frosting Filling

1/2 cup white chocolate
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
4 tbsp cream
3 tbsp strawberry powder (Pulse freeze-dried strawberries in a blender/food processor.)
1/8 tsp salt

Melt the white chocolate using a double boiler or in 15 second intervals in a microwave set to medium power. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Stir in white chocolate until combined. Add cream, strawberry powder, and salt until combined.

Cookie Dough

8 tbsp butter, room temp
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup graham or whole wheat flour
scant 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1.5 oz honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
*Edible Ink Marker (I got mine at Jo-Ann's)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, graham, baking soda, and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter, honey, and brown sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Beat in dry ingredients on low until combined, 30 seconds.

Turn dough out onto parchment paper. Place parchment paper on top of the dough as well. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch-thickness. Place the parchment covered dough in the refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes.

Heat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stamp out discs using a 1 1/2 inch round cookie cutter.

Place frostings in piping bags (plastic sandwich bags with a clipped corner will totally do). Pipe a pea-sized dollop of frosting onto the cookie dough discs. Carefully, with your fingers, seal the dough around the frosting and roll the dough into even, smooth spheres.

Place cookie spheres onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving an inch between the spheres.

Bake for 7 -8 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely.

Use an edible ink pen to draw a reindeer on the tops of the cookies. Do you! Enjoy!

HAZELNUT & ESPRESSO CHOCOLATE CRINKLE COOKIES

Man oh man, this was a steep hump day. Fortunately, I'm over it. Let's just make cookies instead, k?

I'm gonna let you know right now that these are best crinkle cookies I've ever had. My qualm with crinkle cookies is usually that they're too sweet. It's essentially a brownie wrapped in powdered sugar. My version replaces half the flour with toasted hazelnut flour and adds espresso grounds to add depth to offset the sweetness. They smell amazing. It's also bomb with your morning coffee.

Ann :)

Hazelnut & Espresso Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Yields about 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
2 Tbsp coarse-ground espresso (I like the texture of grounds, but feel free to sub instant espresso.)
1 tsp vanilla
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
4 oz butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Toast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet in an oven heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes. Place warm hazelnuts in a cloth. Rub the hazelnuts against one another inside the cloth to remove the skins. Let cool completely. Pulse cooled nuts in a food processor until they just turn into a meal/flour (the texture doesn’t need to be fine) but not so long that the nuts become moist or turn into a nut butter consistency.

Whisk together hazelnut meal, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

Melt chocolate and butter in a metal bowl nestled above simmering water (Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water directly). Whisk until smooth. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, eggs, espresso, and vanilla until smooth. Whisk in the cooled chocolate-butter mixture. Gently fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture until combined. Do not over-mix. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Portion out 2 tablespoons per cookie. Roll dough into balls. Coat balls in the powdered sugar.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the baking time.

COCONUT PANDAN RICE CRISPY TREATS

It's Day 6, and we're halfway through this Christmas Cookie Workshop. I thought it was time to pump the brakes on the complicated recipes. This is about as no-fuss as they come. It's Tuesday. Ain't nobody got time for butter-creaming and dough-chilling on a Tuesday. On Tuesday, we want to put some cereal in melted marshmallows and sneak bites of it as it cools.

These flavors are very familiar with one another. Coconut, pandan, and rice are in countless Southeast Asian desserts. If it ain't broke, put it in marshmallows. If you haven't had pandan, it imparts a sweet, warm aroma and a whole lotta green. It's really it's own thing. I've heard it be described as an herbal bubble-gum flavor, which I don't feel is completely accurate...nor inaccurate. It's just nice. Trust.

Ann :)

Doesn't it look like a green bean casserole?

Doesn't it look like a green bean casserole?

Coconut Pandan Rice Crispy Treats

1 1/2 Tbsp butter (or coconut oil)
3 cups puffed rice cereal
2 cups mini marshmallows or 5 oz regular marshmallows
1 1/3 cup toasted coconut flakes, divided
1 tsp pandan flavoring (You can find it at your local Asian market. I hit up Uwajimaya.)

Butter an 8 x 8 baking dish.

Heat a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in marshmallows until completely melted. Remove from heat.

Stir in pandan flavoring. Stir in rice and 1 cup of the coconut flakes until evenly coated. Spread mixture evenly into the prepared dish. Top with the remaining 1/3 cup of coconut. Cut into 9 squares when cool.

LEBKUCHEN

How is it Monday already? Ugh.

At least I brought cookies! So I first had lebkuchen in Germany, which I still mentally tie to Christmas. My mom worked at the American elementary school in Heidelberg. She ran the main office, and it was, by far, and selfishly, my favorite of her jobs. It was my favorite of her jobs, because elementary schools get really festive to engage the children with every kind of holiday. This translated to teachers and parents gifting loads of holiday treats to my mom (Everyone loves my mom. Like, real talk, my friends probably like my mom more than me. I'm not even offended). My mom, 'cause she's the best, would give all of these holiday treats to my brother and me. Christmastime brought an embarrassment of sugary riches that would otherwise never show up in our home. We were a fruit for dessert kind of family (aka hella Asian).

It was doubly exciting, because some of the foods were German and new to a ten year-old me. One such German Christmas treat was lebkuchen. It's more or less a kind of gingerbread. There's a variety of lebkuchen depending on the region they're from. The lebkuchen that I had was the store-bought kind from Nuremberg. To be true Nuremberg lebkuchen, it must be comprised of at least 25% nuts and less than 10% flour, which makes them fancy and more expensive to produce for an indulgent holiday. I also remember eating around/throwing away the oblaten wafer that forms the cookie base. Lebkuchen can be a wet dough, and the wafer provides and evenly round shape for the batter to cling to. However, oblaten wafers taste like dry, thick paper. Here, I omitted the wafer altogether. You can use a spoon to shape the batter just fine.

Altogether, this version is like a soft gingerbread chock-full of toasted hazelnut and almond flour, candied orange and ginger, and warm spice. I also dipped these in chocolate, because the chocolate-coated ones were my favorite in the trio-packs (other flavors included plain and sugar-glazed). Hope you like 'em!

Ann :)

Lebkuchen
Adapted from Saveur’s Lebkuchen

1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 eggs
5 oz candied citrus peel
5 oz candied ginger
4 oz almond meal
4 oz hazelnut meal
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

Whisk together the citrus peel, ginger, almond meal, hazelnut meal, flour, cinnamon, cloes, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. Whisk together 1 cup sugar, vanilla, and eggs in a bowl. Beat until the mixture is thickened. Stir in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 3 hours.

Heat your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Portion out 1/4 cup scoops of the batter onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Let cookies cool completely.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Drizzle tops of cookies with chocolate or partially (or fully) dip the cookies with chocolate. Let cool completely. Serve.

CHOCOLATE-DIPPED MINT & MATCHA SHORTBREAD

Hope you're all having a pleasantly chill weekend.  I'm thoroughly enjoying having not worn legitimate pants at all so far. I even wore my fleece pajama pants and slippers to Seward Park yesterday morning to collect some Douglas Fir tips into a trash bag for a future cookie post, almost certainly looking like a crazy person to the joggers-by. Those are also the pants that I'm wearing now. I'm that deep into idgaf. I need to soak this all in before the obligatory holiday gatherings in the upcoming weekends.

So I finally made you some actual cookies on this fourth day of this 12 Days of Christmas Cookie Workshop. This cookie keeps is super simple to make and the flavors compliment nicely. The clean, astringent mint and earthy matcha both pair well with the rich chocolate. It's like an Asiatic Thin Mint. Plus, it's naturally green (with antioxidants, right?) and shaped like a Christmas tree!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Ann :)

Chocolate-Dipped Matcha & Mint Shortbread
Adapted from Bouchon Bakery’s Shortbread

180 g unsalted butter, room temp
90 g granulated sugar
2 g salt
6 g peppermint extract (regular mint extract is cool too)
270 g all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp matcha
6 oz chocolate (I like dark or semisweet)
sprinkles (mandatory)

Whisk together flour and matcha.

Cream butter in a mixer on medium-speed until smooth. Add sugar and salt, mix on low until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add peppermint extract until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Add flour in 2 parts, mixing on low until incorporated before adding the next, about 30 seconds.

Wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Line a working surface with parchment, about a baking sheet’s worth. Place dough on parchment. Place plastic wrap (equal to the amount of parchment) on top of the dough. Use a rolling pin atop the plastic-lined dough to roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Stamp out cookies with a cookie cutter. Place cookies 3/4 inch apart on baking sheet. Place cookies in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Bake chilled cookies for 15-20 minutes. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Melt chocolate in a double-boiler or in 30-second intervals in the microwave on medium power.

Dip cooled shortbread in chocolate. Top with sprinkles. Let cool until chocolate is solid.

PISTACHIO CHOCOLATE CHUNK BLONDIES

Okay so I realize this is my third non-cookie recipe in my 12 Days of Christmas Cookie Workshop. Blondies are technically a cookie bar. Personally, I like when a varietal cookie tin surprises with with a non-cookie treat like bark or a truffle. Plus, there's a whole lotta green going on in these blondies, and that's plenty festive. Let's get to it.

For all my peeps that take their sugar gluten-free, I gotchu. I used a combo of almond and pistachio meals instead of flour. This blondie is kind of like a cross between a blondie and pecan pie. The edges are like a crisp cookie, but the soft center is closer to the gooey, buttery, brown sugar filling of a pecan pie or Momofuku Crack Pie type experience. It's rich. The blondie also, like a pecan pie, balances out the sweetness with the bitterness of some chopped dark chocolate. Enjoy!

Ann :)

Pistachio Chocolate Chunk Blondies
makes 16 blondies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the pan
128 grams almond flour
64 grams toasted pistachio meal*, plus 1/2 c toasted chopped pistachios
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c light brown sugar
1/2 c dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c coarsely chopped dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Butter and line a 9 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with parchment, leaving 2 inches of overhand on each side. Butter the top of the parchment as well.

Whisk together the almond flour, pistachio meal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add both sugars and whisk until the sugar is combined and melted. Transfer the butter mixture to a medium bowl and let cool, about 5 minutes.

Whisk the eggs and vanilla into the cooled butter mixture.

Fold in the dry nut mixture until just incorporated. Fold into the chocolate and chopped pistachios.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

Bake about 25-28 minutes. You can test the doneness with a skewer inserted into the center. Unlike other skewer tests that recommend that the skewer come out clean to ensure doneness, the skewer can be slightly wet. A slightly soft center will cool into a quasi-pecan pie-like sugary nut texture. We just don’t want batter to cling too much to the toothpick.

Let cool completely before cutting into 16 equal squares.

The blondies can be wrapped with plastic and stored at room temp for 4 days.

*You can make your own pistachio meal by toasting pistachios at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. They will continue to toast as they cool. Let them cool completely. Pulse in a food processor until they turn into a meal. Don't over-process the pistachios as they will turn into a nut butter.

MINI MARZIPAN STOLLEN

One of my favorite things about living in Germany was their Christmas markets. They're open-air markets, which are delightfully crisp and cozy, lined with little food and gift stalls strewn together by a glow of Christmas lights. I remember them being busier at night, when the lights are painfully magical and romantic. Where I lived, in Heidelberg, the market was right next to the castle along the Neckar. It's like if Epcot Disney put on Christmas in Stars Hallow. People huddled on the cobble streets drinking in the festive tradition and gluwein, German mulled wine.

Apart from the heart-warming atmosphere, the best part was definitely the food. You could find nuts roasting, brats searing, decorated lebkuchen hearts hanging from the stalls (They're like giant gingerbread valentines with messages frosted on them), and so much more I sadly can't remember.

My favorite German Christmas treat has got to stollen. If you aren't familiar, stollen is like... if fruitcake was good. Just to be clear, I don't get fruitcake. Generally just not my formaldehyde fruit jam. It's a sweet, scone-like yeasted bread, dotted with dried fruits and nuts and dusted with powdered sugar. If you know what's up, you get the stollen filled with a log of marizpan running through the center. Traditionally, the loaves are short batards that have one fold over the top to resemble a swaddled baby bread Jesus.

So I know stollen is not a cookie. I'm bending the rules a bit to share one of my favorite Christmas foods. Just go with it. I made them miniature, b/c that's cookie-ish (eh?) and you can really up the marzipan-to-bread ratio. These are slightly labor-intensive, but totally worth it. Hey, we put in a little more work for the holidays, right? Your family will thank you. I mean, don't you want a sweet, candy-filled baby Jesus bread bite?

xo Ann :)

Mini Marzipan Stollen
Adapted from Wild Yeast Blog’s Stollen
Makes about 18 mini stollen.

Sponge

120 g AP flour
80 g water
small pinch active dry yeast

Soaker

204 g raisins (I like golden)
155 g candied orange peel
82 g chopped almonds
35 g rum

Final Dough

348 g AP flour
53 g milk
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp active dry yeast
8 g salt
51 g sugar
1 large egg
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1/2 tsp each of mace, cinnamon, and nutmeg
1/4 tsp each of cardamom and cloves
273 g unsalted butter, room temp
all of the sponge
all of the soaked fruits

Marzipan Filling:

150 g marzipan, cut into 24 equal pieces and rolled into balls

Finishing

1/2 c butter, melted
1/4 c powdered sugar

Combine the sponge ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and ferment at room temp for 12 hours.

Toss the soaker fruits with the rum in a medium bowl. Cover and leave at room temp for 12 hours.

After your sponge, and soaker fruits have been sitting for 12 hours, fit a stand mixer with a bread hook. Combine all the final dough ingredients except for the soaker. Mix in slow speed until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Continue mixing on medium speed until the gluten reaches full development. The dough should come together around the hook and no longer stick to the side and bottom of the bowl. This could take 25 minutes or more, depending on your mixer.

Add the soaked fruits and mix on slow until they are evenly distributed through the dough.

Transfer the dough to a buttered container. Cover with a towel and ferment for 30 minutes at room temp.

Turn the dough onto the counter. Divide into 65 g portions. Gently roll portions into balls. Flatten slightly. Use a finger to press an indentation into the center. Place a marzipan ball into the center. Seal the dough around the marzipan. Shape dough into a ball. Repeat with the rest of the dough and marzipan.

Place the dough balls on parchment-lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Slip the baking sheets into a large plastic bag with a bowl of warm water. Proof for about 90 minutes, replenishing the water when it cools.

Meanwhile preheat our oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit on the convection setting.

Bake for 18 minutes-20 minutes or until golden brown.

While the loaves are still warm, brush with melted butter. To finish, sift powdered sugar over the loaves. Let cool completely.

EGGNOG TWIX

Boy oh boy…Girl. GIRL. Where the erf have I been?! I know, I apologize for straight ghosting you all. I think I was putting too much pressure on producing content and stressing about rushed, janky, novice pic/posts to the point where I just tucked away this modest project of mine. (I also still gots a day gig.) BUUUT, I took some time to recharge and have been putting in work to bring you some quality recipes. It's been some serious secret slow-blogging. Now I'm back, so let's kick it. I finally put some shekels towards a legit camera that doesn't accept phone calls and have been spending every free hour either in the kitchen or washing butter or chocolate off of my person. I didn't want to return after so long without bringing you something rull nice.

So I have prepared for you my... 12 Days of Christmas Cookies Workshop! I mean, I love me some Christmas. It's my most basic time of year. You will not find me dying eggs 'round Easter (Like, can we just devil that ish? And not roll our food in the grass.) or donning green while boiling cabbage and potatoes in March. You will, however, find me getting in my Love Actually and gingerbread every December. I truly enjoy the magical quality of Christmas and the sensory trappings of the twinkling lights and comforting food during an otherwise unpleasant time of year. (Sorry Seattle, you ain't cute rn.) I love Christmas. Let's make cookies, shall we?

So I'm coming out the gate with a truly addictive and festive take on one of my favorite candies, the Twix. I'd like to preface this recipe by clarifying that there is no actual eggnog in it. I tried using it, but it was a thin, weak caramel bust. Instead, I ended up adding eggnog spices to bloom in the hot caramel. I also snuck in a little cinnamon and nutmeg in the shortbread. Together, the sweet warmth of the spiced caramel and cookie is enrobed in rich, dark chocolate to create the perfect bite.  You seriously have to make these. They are heavenly.

See you tomorrow! :)

Eggnog Twix
Barely adapted from Notwithoutsalt’s Homemade Twix

Shortbread Bases

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp rice flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg (freshly ground is ideal)

Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl and mix until creamy. Add the egg and beat until the color lightens, about 1 minute. Add vanilla until combined.

Whisk together flour, rice flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until combined.

Form into a flat, rectangular disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 375°F. Place dough on a large piece of parchment paper, lightly flour and roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thick. (Work quickly, because the dough will become difficult to roll as it warms up.) Transfer parchment paper with dough to a baking sheet then refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Cut the dough into 3-1/2-by-3/4-inch cookies. You should get at least 24 cookies. Pierce each cookie several times with a fork.

Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool. Meanwhile, make the caramel.

Caramel

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup or corn syrup
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup cream
4 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp clove

Grease a 9×13 pan with soft butter and line it with parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on each side. Set aside.

Combine the sugar, golden syrup and water in a large saucepan. Stir gently to combine then wash off the sides of the pan using water and your clean hands to feel if any sugar remains on the side. If stray bits of sugar fall into the caramel it can cause the caramel to crystallize so it’s important to make sure all the sugar is in the bottom of the pan mixed with the water.

Place the lid on the pan and put over high heat. Having the lid on during the first few minutes of boiling creates condensation that further helps to wash away any sugar that may be left on the sides of the pan. After 5 minutes remove the lid and let the caramel continue to boil until it reaches 300 degrees F. If some of the caramel starts to color you can gently swirl the pot to combine.

Add the cream, butter and vanilla seeds once it has reached 300 degrees F and then continue to cook until the caramel reaches 248 degrees F. At that point remove the pan from the heat and pour into the prepared 9×13 pan.

Let the caramel cool for 10 minutes before gently laying the cookie bases down in four rows of six. Continue to let the caramel cool for 40 minutes before thoroughly chilling in the fridge for an additional 40 minutes or until the caramel is firm enough to cut.

Once completely chilled, carefully remove the caramel and cookie bases from the pan and cut along the cookies to create 24 caramel topped bars.

Chocolate

1 1/2 pounds milk chocolate
1 Tbsp oil

Prepare the chocolate coating by melting the milk chocolate in the microwave or in a double-boiler on the stove then stir in the oil.

Dip the bars into the chocolate with the help of a fork and move to a parchment lined sheet tray.

Place the sheet tray in the fridge once all the bars have been dipped. Keep the bars in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator for three weeks or in the freezer for two months.

Let the bars sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

MY FAVORITE SUMMER SUCCOTASH

A couple of years ago, while i was still cooking professionally, I didn’t start work till 2:00 or 3:00p.m. Though there were aspects of working in a kitchen that I consider invaluable to my food knowledge and personal growth, the vampirical lifestyle was not the easiest. Cooking professionally is hardcore, to say the least. At one point, I had near Angela Bassett type guns. (If that was too dated of a reference, insert Michelle Obama in place of Angela Bassett.) Anywho, I spent the majority of my off-time by myself. Real talk, while everyone I knew was well into their workday, I was watching The Chew. The Chew was like a weird surrogate friend supplementing the relationships that were limited by my nocturnal work schedule. I know I’m not their main demographic. If I brought it up to my friends, they’d add something like, “Oh my mom is really into that show.” Also, the only person I could actually nerd out about The Chew with is my friend who’s a stay-at-home mom.

But from my formerly free mornings and unusually high intake of The Chew, I found one of my all-time favorite quick dinner recipes. Here I’ve modified Geoffrey Zackarian’s Rock Shrimp and Succotash for those of us who can’t readily find chantrelles or fava beans. Honestly, I modify the ingredients based on whatever produce is in my fridge, but this combination is my favorite. In coconut oil, I sauté shrimp, shallots, garlic, mushrooms, fresh corn and peas, and bright summer tomatoes then finish with basil and lime.  This dish screams summer. It’s healthy and light enough for the warm weather but still very satisfying and, most importantly, easy.


My Favorite Summer Succotash

4 tablespoons of coconut oil, separated
1 pound of shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 shallot, diced
5 mushrooms, sliced
1 zucchini, large-diced
2 garlic cloves, grated or fine-minced
1 cup small tomatoes, halved. I used grape tomatoes. Any small variety works.
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 cup fresh peas (You can substitute thawed frozen peas if you need to. Peas are one of the few vegetables that don’t lose much flavor after flash-freezing)

Heat your skillet or deep sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil. (If you’d like, you can use olive oil to sauté and then butter when the corn and peas are added. Personally, I think the coconut has a sweet fragrance that compliments the corn perfectly. Plus, coconut is a healthy stable fat for high-heat things like sautéing.)

Season shrimp with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Add shrimp to the pan. Cook for about 1 minute on each side. You want the sides to have a little sear. (Pro-tip: If the shrimp curls up to the shape of a C, it’s cooked. If it tightens to resemble an O, it’s overcooked and tough.) Remove cooked shrimp onto a plate and set aside.  

Add shallots and mushrooms and zucchini. Salt and pepper. Let the mushrooms get a little sear and color before salting them. Salting them too early will draw out the mushroom’s water and make them rubbery.

When the mushrooms are almost done cooking, add remaining coconut oil and garlic. Stir.

When the garlic is fragrant, add the tomatoes.

Add the corn and peas. Salt and pepper. We don’t want to cook the corn and peas. I personally love fresh raw corn flavor. If the corn is fresh, it’s not as starchy as the corn you’d find in the off-months and has a sweet creaminess when raw. I like to celebrate the quality of these fresh ingredients and not change them through excessive heat. We’re only cooking the protein and seasonings here.

Return shrimp to the pot. Tear the fresh basil into the pot and toss. Finish with a squeeze of lime juice.

Bonus idea:  If you don’t want to add to the internal temperature of your home this summer, this recipe translates to the grill pretty easily.  Just grill the shrimp, corn, tomatoes, and shallots. Toss in a dressing from the coconut oil, lime juice, julienned basil, and salt and pepper. The flavors won’t be as married as they would be cooked all together, but you’ve got some great char and smokiness to make up for it.