Pepernoten – Bite-Size Dutch Spiced Cookies

Pepernoten – Bite-Size Dutch Spiced Cookies

Pepernoten Cookies

Pepernoten Cookies

Every Sunday night, I take part in a food Twitter chat (are we connected on Twitter?) that last about an hour. During last week’s session, I met a food blogger from Holland, Ellen from In My Red Kitchen, now living in Los Angeles. We exchanged a few tweets and I told her my guy is Dutch and I’d be checking out her website for recipes. She sent me back a link to her Pepernoten recipe and told me to make that for SinterKlaas.

Today is December 6, Sinterklaas, and last night, at my guy’s delight, I made Ellen’s Pepernoten recipe. Pepernoten are tiny little cookies deeply-infused with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and clove. They are crunchy and are eaten sort of like popcorn – by the handful.

FlourHere’s a slightly-modified version of Ellen’s recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • ½ tsp. cardamom
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 6 Tbsp. milk
Unbaked Pepernoten

Unbaked Pepernoten

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 340 F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, the baking powder, the spices, the salt and the sugar in a medium bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter with the milk. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture. Mix until fully combined – don’t overmix.
  4. Use about a half teaspoon of cookie dough to form tiny little balls.
  5. Place the balls on the cookie sheets and flatten them slightly with your thumb. Bake the Pepernoten for 15 – 18 minutes.
  6. Cool completely on a cookie rack then store in an airtight container.

Makes about 75 cookies.

Black Out Chocolate Pound Cake

Black Out Chocolate Pound Cake

IngredientsI’ve had these Ghirardelli dark chocolate bars in my pantry for two weeks and they’ve been calling my name to use them in something dark and decadent. While perusing Pinterest (one of my guilty pleasures), I saw a beautiful pound cake by OMGChocolateDesserts.com that I knew would be wonderful.

Chocolate Mixture

Chocolate Mixture

I wanted that deep, dark and rich chocolate flavor so I used the dark Ghirardelli chocolate I had on hand along with the cocoa powder by the same maker. The results are sooooo delish.

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 ounces Ghirardelli dark chocolate (60% cocoa), chopped
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • ¾ cup Ghirardelli cocoa powder
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
Cake Batter

Cake Batter

Ganache Ingredients

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces Ghirardelli dark chocolate (60% cocoa), chopped
Baked Cake

Baked Cake

Cake Instructions

  1. Coat a 9” x 5” loaf pan with cooking spray or butter. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Mix the flour and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl, pour boiling water over it and stir with a spoon until fully melted. Add the cocoa powder and stir until well incorporated. Set aside.
  4. Cream the butter for 2 minutes using an electric mixer. Add the granulated sugar and mix for 1 minute. Add the reserved chocolate mixture and mix for another minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the flour mixture, a quarter cup at a time, until just blended – don’t overmix.
  5. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 6o-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes in the pan then unmold and cool completely.

Ganache Instructions

  1. Heat the cream in the microwave for 1 minute.
  2. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate in a small bowl and whisk until the mixture is uniform in color and has thickened. Allow the ganache to cool for 3 minutes then spread it over the cake

Serves 8.

Cookie Dough Brownie Balls

Cookie Dough Brownie Balls

Brownie Cookie BallsI’m a big fan of Pinterest for all sorts of projects – baking, cooking, crafts, remodeling…A few weeks back, I saw a recipe by The Domestic Rebel for Chocolate Chips Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs that I found interesting. What could be wrong with cookie dough, brownies and a chocolate coating!?

Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers

Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers

Here’s my interpretation using one of my favorite cookie dough, fudgy brownies and the newly-launched Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers.

Ingredients

Chocolate Dipping

Chocolate Dipping

Instructions

  1. Form cookie dough into 24 balls. Refrigerate the cookie dough balls for an hour.
  2. Cut the brownies into 24 squares. Flatten a brownie square in the palm of your hand until it’s as thin as you can get it without it falling apart.
  3. Wrap the flattened brownie around a cookie dough ball. If the brownie cracks a bit, simply patch it up with thicker pieces or leftovers. Refrigerate the brownie balls for 30 minutes to firm up.
  4. In a microwavable bowl, heat the chocolate wafers until fully melted, stirring every 30 seconds – about 90 seconds (could be less depending on your microwave).
  5. Brownie Cookie Balls InsideUsing a fork, dunk each brownie ball into the melted chocolate, coating completely, and place carefully on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of mini chocolate chips on each brownie ball then place in the refrigerator for an hour to set. Place the set brownie balls in an airtight container for up to a week.

Makes 2 dozen brownie balls.

Cheers,

Veronique

Oatmeal and Butterscotch Cookies

Oatmeal and Butterscotch Cookies

I must be honest, oatmeal cookies aren’t my favorites. I’ve tested several variations of my basic recipe and have finally found a cookie that’s chewy yet crispy and that I can incorporate one of my favorite flavors in – butterscotch.

Cookie Dough

Cookie Dough

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • ½ cup butterscotch chips
Baked Cookies

Baked Cookies

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Add the seasoned flour to the creamed mixture – don’t over-mix.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, add the oats and the butterscotch chips to the cookie dough. When just incorporated, cover and chill the dough for an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Using teaspoon-size portions, roll dough into balls. Place the rolled cookie dough 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to a cookie rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Chip and Butterscotch Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip and Butterscotch Banana Bread

Baked BreadI’m not sure why, but seeing overripe bananas and having to toss them hurts me. I’m also not sure why, but spending $10 on ingredients required to make banana bread to save $0.50 worth of bananas doesn’t bother me at all.

Chips and Flour

Chips and Flour

This banana bread is gilded with chocolate and butterscotch chips that give the plain version a major facelift. The resulting product is moist and chocolaty.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup butterscotch chips
  • ¾ cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾  tsp. Kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
Banana Mixture

Banana Mixture

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or coat a 9-by-5 loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine the butterscotch and chocolate chips in a small bowl. Set 3 tablespoons of the mixture aside for later use.
  3. Bread Batter

    Bread Batter

    Sift the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Leaving the 3 tablespoon of chips out, add the remaining chips to the flour and toss to coat.

  4. Using a wooden spoon, combine the eggs, brown sugar, sugar, banana and oil in a larger bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and combine gently making sure to not over-mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining chips on the surface of the batter.
  5. Bake 60 minutes or just until a toothpick comes out mostly crumb-free when inserted in the center of the loaf. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then unmold and cool completely.

Sliced BreadNotes: Bread may be stored at room temperature up to 3 days wrapped airtight in plastic wrap. May be frozen, well-wrapped, up to 1 month. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.

Servings: 8

Adapted from this The Daily Meal recipe.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chocolate Chunk CookiesMy tasting panel (ten warehouse workers at my office) really liked these chewy yet crispy cookies and the extra chocolate from the addition of chunks with the chips.

This recipe yields 32 cookies which can be a lot of you’re only craving a quick dozen. The cookie dough can easily be divided and wrapped tightly in wax paper them aluminum foil and frozen for up to a month.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ½ cup chocolate chunks

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs to the butter mixture, beating well after each one, until fully combined, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture – do not over mix.  Add the chips and mix until just combined.
  5. Line four cookie sheets with parchment paper (if you only have two cookie sheets, break up the baking in two phases making sure the cookie sheets cool completely from the first batch prior to doing the next). For each cookie, scoop one tablespoon of dough, place on a cookie sheet and flatten gently with the palm of your hand. Eight cookies will fit on each cookie sheet.
  6. Bake, two sheets at a time, until golden, about 13 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets then transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat the process with the last two cookie sheets.

Makes 32 cookies.

Easy Zeppole – Italian Fried Dough

Easy Zeppole – Italian Fried Dough

Photo by Eat with Dan

Photo by Eat with Dan

Who doesn’t love going to the fair and getting a hot paper bag full of Zeppole covered in confectioners’ sugar? Nobody – that’s who!

I’ve used a ‘standard’ recipe for fried dough that involved yeast and just the right warm water temperature but really, who needs to go through all that? This is one easy recipe that everyone can make. While the oil and frying can be scary, as long as you have a heavy pot deep enough, you’ll have no issues.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 quarts canola oil for frying
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 pinch Kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
Photo by Eat with Dan

Photo by Eat with Dan

Directions:

  1. Add the confectioners’ sugar to a paper bag.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy and deep pot until a candy / deep-fry thermometer reaches 375 degrees. The oil shouldn’t come up more than a third to a half of the depth of the pot at the risk of overflowing.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Stir in the beaten eggs, ricotta cheese and vanilla. Mix gently over low heat until combined, 1-2 minutes. Batter will be sticky.
  4. Drop the batter by tablespoons into the hot oil a few at a time to ensure your oil doesn’t cool off (raise the heat under the pot if temperature cools too much). Fry the Zeppole until golden brown, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add hot Zeppole to the paper bag and shake to cover in confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm.

Makes 3 dozen Zeppole.

Adapted from AllRecipe.

5 National Cheesecake Day Recipes

5 National Cheesecake Day Recipes

Dulce de Leche Mini Cheesecake

Dulce de Leche Mini Cheesecake

Today’s National Cheesecake Day. I don’t care who decided today was dedicated to all things cheesecake – I love cheesecake!

Here are 5 cheesecake recipes to help you celebrate National Cheesecake Day!

What are some of your favorite cheesecakes?

Cheers,

Veronique

Chewy Crunchy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy Crunchy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy Crunchy Chocolate Chip CookiesI truly love when readers contact me to say they’ve successfully tried some of my recipes and have even ventured to make yummy variations to them.

One of my readers, Kayla from New Jersey, wrote me recently to say she used the Extreme Peanut Butter Cookies recipe and replaced the peanut butter chips with chocolate chips. She loved the results and sent in the gorgeous images posted here. Here’s the recipe for your perusal and enjoyment!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar or ½ cup honey
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 8-ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Chewy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies PanDirections:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder and 1 cup of the flour. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in remaining flour. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Shape dough into 1½ inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Let me know what you think if you bake a batch!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Centers

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Centers

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Centers

With Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting

Ganache centers, need I say more?? These dark chocolate cupcakes get an extra boost of chocolateness with the addition of bittersweet chocolate ganache filling in the center of the cupcakes.

As you bake these cupcakes, the fudgy centers will cave in – no worries! That’s the perfect little nook to put extra frosting in.

Ganache Centers Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. confectioner sugar

Chocolate Cupcakes Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup piping hot, brewed coffee
  • ¾ cup bread flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Cupcakes after baking

Cupcakes after baking

Ganache Centers Directions:

  1. Place chocolate, cream, and confectioner sugar in a medium bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir the mixture and if not completely melted, return to the microwave for 10 seconds. Stir until smooth then place in the refrigerator to cool, 15-20 minutes.

Chocolate Cupcakes Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and either butter and flour a 12-muffin pan or add cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the chocolate and cocoa powder. Pour the hot coffee over the chocolate and cocoa powder. Whisk until smooth, about 1 minute, and chill in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Blend together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  4. In another medium bowl, beat the oil, eggs, vanilla and vinegar. Whisk the egg mixture into the reserved bittersweet chocolate / cocoa powder mixture until smooth.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, add the flour mixture to the chocolate batter until just incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  6. Divide the batter among the cups of the muffin pan. Each cup shouldn’t be more than ¾ full.
  7. Add a teaspoon of ganache on top of each cupcake – don’t mix the ganache in the cake batter.
  8. Bake 17 – 19 minutes, until the cupcake tops are firm. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Frost with Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting.

Yields a dozen cupcakes.