Friday, December 23, 2011

Cookie Dough Truffles

I wanted to post one last recipe before Christmas that would be good for any holiday party. When it comes to dessert, I think its really nice to put out small bites for guests sometime after dinner and before the main dessert is served. These cookie dough truffles are a perfect little bite. They also make great gifts. I prefer them right out of the refrigerator but they are meant to be served room temp.

I will return with more recipes after the new year. Layla has just started eating rice cereal this week with applesauce and bananas. She loves it! I will post pictures and I will start the baby part of Sous Chef Baby when I return. I hope you all have a great holiday season!  Enjoy :)

Cookie Dough Truffles 
Makes: 50 Truffles

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup dark chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli) 
Extra mini chocolate chip and coconut for decorating

1. In a food processor or stand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together. 

2. Add in the vanilla and beat until incorporated

3. Alternating, add the flour and then condensed milk., beating well. 

4. Fold in mini chocolate chips and coconut. 

5. Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour until firm. 

6. Once the dough is firm, roll into balls. 

7. In a microwave safe bowl, add the dark chocolate chips and microwave on high for 1 min. Stir the chocolate and microwave again in 30 min increments until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  

8. Using a toothpick, dip each ball into the melted chocolate and place on parchment to harden.

9. While the chocolate is still wet, place the mini chocolate chips or coconut for decoration. 

10. Refrigerate until ready to serve. If you would like them to be at room temp, take them out of the refrigerator 1 hour before serving. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Appetizer Puff Sandwiches and Chicken Salad Recipe

I am always looking for appetizers to bring to a party that do not have to be heated or remain hot for the party. These bite sized sandwiches are made from cream puff shells and you can fill them with whatever sandwich ingredients you desire. My favorite filling is my chicken salad. You can find both the recipe for the cream puff shells and the chicken salad below.

The recipe for the cream puffs comes from my mother-in-law who is most recently known as Grandma Chrissy :) The chicken salad recipe is one I made up because I am not a fan of mayo so I substitute most of the mayo for Greek yogurt and mustard.

Cream Puff Shells:
Makes 2 dozen

1 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup flour
4 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a small saucepan, heat water and butter,bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and stir in flour; stir vigorously until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat and beat in eggs one at a time. Continue beating until mixture is smooth. Drop dough using a spoon onto two ungreased baking sheets (1 dozen per sheet) Bake for 30 mins. If you are baking both baking sheets at the same time, switch half way through the baking time. Remove from oven and let cool completely on cooling rack.

3. Once the puffs are cool you can fill them with your favorite filling by slicing the top 3/4 the way through and filling. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chicken Salad:

Makes about 4 cups depending on size of chicken
(You can alter the amount of vegetables added to your specific taste)

4 bone-in skin on chicken breasts
2 celery stalks- diced
2 carrots- peeled and diced
4 scallions-diced
1 tbsp fresh dill
1-2 tbsp basil
1-2 tbsp parsley
2-3 tbsp mayonnaise
6 oz plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1-2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for 45 mins or until fully cooked. Set aside to cool. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat of the bones and discard the skin. Chop up the chicken and place in a large bowl.

2. Add the chopped celery, carrots, scallions, dill, basil and parsley to the chicken and mix together.

3. In another bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard and honey. Pour into chicken mixture and mix together. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dessert Platters

Here are a few different ways I like to make dessert platters to bring to a party. In the summertime, I like to use Hydrangea leaves under the desserts and fill the middle with berries. In the fall/winter time I like to use decorative paper and use seasonal fruits such as grapes, figs or kumquats in the middle. I also like to use white paper muffins liners (standard size) to make it easier to pick up and eat, it looks nice too. I think it's nice to bring something a little different, not your standard bakery platter.

Also, see below the recipe for the stain glass sugar cookies (shown below as the stars). These would be fun for this time of year if you cut out different holiday shapes.

Fourth of July platter of cupcakes, oatmeal cookies, sugar cookie stars

Thanksgiving platter with mini pumpkin pies, caramel brownies, coconut squares,
mini apple pies, lemon cake and snickerdoodle cookies

Holiday Platter with macaroons, lemon "circles", jam filled butter cookies and
chocolate cookies with caramel marscapone filling

Holiday Platter with coconut squares, Mississippi Mud cookies and Margarita cookies

Stain Glass Sugar Cookies:
Makes 36 three inch cookies
3 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
Hard candies, such as life savers

1. To make the dough, whisk together flour and salt in a small bowl.

2. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on med-high speed until creamy, about 2 mins. Gradually add in the sugar and beat until light and fluffy; about 3 mins. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each egg.

3. Add in the flour in 3 additions mixing on low speed and mix.

4. Place the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and cover; place in the refrigerator until firm enough to roll out; 2 hours or overnight.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare the candy filling. Place the same color candies in a plastic bag and crush into a powder with a rolling pin.

6. Roll out the cookies on a floured surface to 1/4' thickness. Cut out the cookies to the shape of your choice and then cut out the centers of the cookies with a smaller shape and remove extra dough. Fill each space with the powdered candy. Do this very carefully using a spoon to place it in the center. Try not to get any candy on the cookie itself.

7. Bake the cookies for 10 mins until lightly brown. I recommend baking these on the upper level of the oven to keep from browning too much. Remove from oven and cool completely on the baking sheet. Do not place on cooling rack or the candy center will come apart.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Homemade Mallomars

I am going to continue the week with more cookie and dessert recipes. Over the weekend I made all the desserts for my dad office Christmas party and a few of the recipes are being requested.

This recipe is for homemade Mallomars. They were a big hit at the party and pretty simple to make. I recommend making them the day ahead, so the chocolate ganache has a longer time to set. You can store these cookies in an air tight container for 3 days. However, I like to make the graham cracker base ahead of time, they can be stored for up to 3 weeks.

Homemade Mallomars
Makes 40 cookies

Graham Cracker Dough:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

40 large marshmallows

Chocolate Ganache:
6 oz good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (do not use Nestle chocolate, it does not melt well for this recipe)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2-1 tsp hot water, if needed

1. Prepare the graham cracker dough by whisking together the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

2. In a electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix butter on medium speed until softened. Mix in sugars until incorporated. Make sure to scape down the sides of the bowl. Add in honey, egg, and vanilla and mix.

3. Add in the dry ingredients in 3 separate additions, mixing only until blended. Do not over mix.

4. Divide the dough in half and form into two 4" squares. Chill the dough for 2 hours until its firm enough to roll out. You can keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

5. Once the dough is firm, roll it out with a rolling pin on a floured surface to 3/16" thickness. Cut 2" round circles using a 2" biscuit cutter. Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 mins until lightly browned. (If you are making the cookies ahead of time, you can cool them completely and store them in an air tight container) If you are finishing the recipe in one day, take the cookies out of the oven and let sit for 2-3 mins. Keep the oven on.

7. Place the marshmallows flat side down over the warm cookie. Return to the oven for 2 mins, until the marshmallows are slightly soft. Do not over bake or they will melt. Remove from the oven and let stand 5 mins. Using the heal of your hand press the marshmallows down to spread evenly to the edge of the cookies. Let cool. (If you made the graham crackers ahead of time, heat the oven to 350 degrees, warm the cookies for 1 min and then place the marshmallows on top and continue with the recipe)

8. To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a food processor and finely chop. If you do not have a food processor you can chop it with a knife and place it in a large bowl.

9. In a small sauce pan, heat the heavy cream and corn syrup until it comes to a simmer. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate in the food processor or bowl. Let the mixture stand for 1 minute and then pulse or mix until combined. Let the mixture rest another minute and then add in the vanilla and mix one more time.

10. Empty the ganache in a deep bowl. If it appears to be oily, add the hot water a few drops at a time. The ganache will thicken as it stands, but should be pourable. It should only take a few minutes to thicken, if it does not, place in the refrigerator for 4-5 mins. It should resemble chocolate syrup.

11. Working one at a time, dip the cookie marshmallow side down into the chocolate ganache. Coat the entire cookie and then turn it over and place it on a cooling rack. The glaze will take a few hours to set.

(Recipe from Great Cookies: Secrets to Sensational Sweets by Carole Walters)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Slow Cooker Beef Stew Chili

As a new mom, I am finding 5pm to 6pm to be one of the hardest times of the day to get anything done. Layla seems to want the most attention around the time I am trying to cook dinner (Not the best Sous Chef yet) I have tried to juggle her and cooking at the same time and it has resulted in the burning of dinner.

Now that I am home a lot with the new baby I like to get the cooking or preparation done early, during nap time. The slow cooker is one of the best ways to cook with a new baby. I try to use it once a week.

A little known fact about Tom and myself, we like to eat spicy food. If you like southwestern/Mexican flavors with a little spice you will enjoy this beef stew chili recipe very much. I like to serve this stew with homemade croutons instead of slices of bread. It gives the stew a great crunch.

Beef Stew Chili with Butternut Squash:
Serves 4 

1 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat (boneless chuck), cut into 1/2" cubes
3/4 Tbsp salt
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 jalapenos, minced (Remove the seeds for less heat)
2/3 cup red wine
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 (28 oz) can chopped tomatoes with juices
1 (15oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
2 cups butternut squash, 1/2" cubes
1 cup carrots, diced
Sour cream, cilantro and cheddar cheese for serving. -optional

1. Heat a large dutch oven or skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the bottom with oil. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add to pan. Brown on all sides for 8 mins. Add beef to the slow cooker.  

2.  Add in a little more oil and sautee the onion and bell pepper for 3 mins until softened. Add in tomato paste, garlic and jalapeno; sautee 2 mins, stirring constantly.

3. Add in wine and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan for 2 mins. Pour mixture over beef in the slow cooker.

4. In the slow cooker, stir in the following ingredients: chili powder, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, kidney beans, butternut squash and carrot.

5. Cook on low heat for 8 hours or high heat for 4 hours. Serve with sour cream, cilantro and cheddar cheese. Top with homemade croutons (recipe below)

Homemade Croutons:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dice baguette or Italian bread into 1/2' cubes and place on a baking sheet. Coat the bread with olive oil, salt and pepper and mix. You can add other herbs such as, rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes, oregano etc... Bake in the oven for 10-15 mins. Mix the croutons half way through cooking time. Check occasionally to make sure they are not browning too fast, they should be golden brown.

(Recipe adapted from cooking light)

Friday, December 16, 2011

You learn something new everyday

In order to understand why I find the following information interesting you must know the history of coconut squares in my family. As I mentioned, I have been eating these since I was a little girl. My grandma Frances who has lived right outside of Cleveland Ohio most of her life, always made these when she came for a visit or when we came to visit her in Ohio. Before she had the recipe she use to buy them at a local Jewish bakery, they called them coconut bars.

When I posted this recipe the other day my mom's friend, who lives in Australia, said "A recipe I can relate to, we call these Lamingtons." When my mom googled Lamingtons, which turn out to be the exact same thing as coconut squares, she found out that they originated in Australia and South Africa. It also says that Lamingtons are popular in Cleveland Ohio, out of all places! However in Ohio they are called coconut bars, not Lamingtons. South Africa....Australia...Cleveland..not sure I see the connection but very happy they made their way into my family.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Out of all the cookie recipes I have tried, this one is most popular and never disappoints. My sister Kim requests I make these cookies for her on a daily basis. This recipe is adapted from the Quaker Oats Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. I have added and subtracted a few ingredients.

I add in chocolate chips instead of raisins (although both would be good too) and I love adding in 1/2 cup of shredded coconut. It doesn't over power the cookie and just gives a hint of sweet coconut flavor.

I hope your family requests these as much as mine does! Enjoy.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Makes 4 Dozen Cookies

1 stick plus 6 tablespoons of butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla 
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups old fashioned Quaker Oats
1/2 cup -3/4cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until creamy.

4. Add in eggs and vanilla, beat well.

5. Add in dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.

6. Add in oats, chocolate chips and coconut and mix well.

7. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets.

8. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet and then remove to wire rack. Cool completely 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Coconut Squares

This recipe comes from my Grandma Frances. She has been making these coconut squares for as long as I can remember. She lives in Ohio, so I have taken over the east coast baking of these coconut squares. I make these every Christmas for my parents annual Christmas Eve party. They are now becoming a favorite for my husbands family, so I will be sure to make two batches this holiday.

Coconut squares are small bites of fluffy white cake with a thin layer of chocolate syrup on the outside, rolled in extra fine coconut. I dare you to eat just one! It is impossible.

A few important steps not to overlook are to make sure the cake is frozen overnight before you dip them in the chocolate syrup and use extra fine coconut. Using shredded coconut will not work for this recipe. You can find extra fine coconut at stores like Wild by Nature, Candy suppliers and online.

Coconut Squares
Makes 40-50 squares
Time: Overnight freeze plus 1 hour assembly

1 box of white cake mix (do not use yellow cake mix)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 bag of extra fine unsweetened coconut (they sell this in Wild by Nature-baking isle or candy supply stores) You cannot substitute with shredded coconut
Wax paper

1. Bake cake in a 13 x 9" cake pan, according to directions on box. Cool completely. Cut cake into 4 quarters and wrap each section with plastic wrap. Freeze overnight.

2. Once the cake is frozen, mix the following ingredients in a sauce pan over med-high heat. Cocoa powder, sugar, water, vanilla and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, mixing frequently. Remove from heat and cool mixture until luke warm, around 15 mins. I put the mixture in the refrigerator to cool quicker.

3. In the meantime, place the coconut on wax paper and set aside. Also, line a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside.

4. Working with one frozen section of cake at a time (leave the other sections in freezer) cut cake into squares, 8 bigger squares, or 12 smaller. **If your 13 x 9' baking dish was rounded, cut off the rounded edges and discard, so you have perfect squares.

5. Working with one square at a time, place each square in the chocolate mixture and coat all sides, using a slotted spoon take the square out and let excess chocolate drip off. Roll the chocolate covered square in the coconut and place on baking sheet lined with wax paper. (Try to work quickly so the cake does not become to soft) Continue until all squares are covered in chocolate and coconut. (This is a bit time consuming but worth it!)

6. Refrigerate for 10-15 mins and then keep at room temperature.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mississippi Mud Sandwich Cookies

These are a chocolate lovers dream. I recently tried this recipe and was addicted at first bite. These "cookies" taste like two thin chewy brownies sandwiched with creamy marshmallow frosting covered in chocolate ganache. Enjoy these decadent desserts with a cold glass of milk.

Mississippi Mud Sandwich Cookies
Makes 20-25 Sandwiches

1 ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips

Marshmallow Fluff:
3 egg whites 2 cups light corn syrup
¾ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups heavy cream
16 ounces of good quality semi-sweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli chocolate)

1. Prepare the marshmallow frosting by mixing the egg whites, corn syrup and salt on high speed until it has doubled in volume. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the powdered sugar. Add in vanilla and mix to combine. Set aside.
2. In a double boiler, melt the semi sweet chocolate chips for the cookies and set aside.
3. In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in one egg at a time and mix until blended together, scraping the sides of the bowl.

4. Mix in the vanilla and melted chocolate to butter mixture on medium speed.

5. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and then add it gradually to the wet ingredients on low speed. Mix until combined. Stir in milk chocolate chips and walnuts.

6. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper place 1 tbsp of dough for each cookie. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 mins. Let cool ( I like the make the cookies a day ahead of time and store in an air tight container)

7. Once the cookies are cool, spread the marshmallow frosting on one cookie and than top with another cookie to make a sandwich.

8. Place all the cookie sandwiches on a wire cooling rack with wax paper underneath.
9. On a stove top, cook the heavy cream over medium heat just until boiling point, remove from heat and add in chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

10. Pour the chocolate ganache over each cookie, covering as much cookie as you can.

11. Sprinkle with walnuts while the ganache is still wet. Then, let the cookies dry at room temperature for 2 hours so the ganache can set.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Tis the Season for cookies, desserts and an extra 5 pounds. Cookies have always been the best thing to bring to a party or give as gifts this time of year. Over the next week, I hope you enjoy a few of my favorite cookie recipes. This ones a classic..

Make these chocolate chip cookies and you will receive major compliments. These are now, my go to recipe for chocolate chip cookies. This recipe is adapted from the infamous Jacque Torres aka Mr. Chocolate. It is a truly perfect recipe.

Do not be fooled by the prep time. This recipe does call for the dough to be refrigerated at least 24 hours but I find it makes it much easier this way. You can make the dough days in advance and just bake them the day of the party. They also stay good for 3 days in an air tight container.

Next time you are in the mood to make cookies, definitely try this recipe. In order for these cookies to come out perfect do not skip these steps: Bring the butter and eggs to room temperature and make sure to have good quality chocolate (I used Ghiradelli)


Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields: 50 cookies
Prep and Baking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes, plus 24-72 hours to chill the dough

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 pounds good quality chocolate chips and chocolate bar, at least 60% cacao ( I used both chips and chopped chocolate bar to give different textures)
sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling
1. Sift together the dry ingredients: cake flour, bread flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium sized bowl and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together your butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. 
3. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add in the vanilla and mix. 
4. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, until just moistened. Fold in your chocolate until evenly distributed throughout the dough. 

5.Press plastic wrap against the dough, making sure it is completely covered, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or as long as 72 hours. When you are ready to bake, bring the dough to room temperature. 
6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line and/or grease your baking sheets. Scoop your dough out onto the sheets using a small ice cream scoop or rounded tablespoonfuls of dough (about 2 tbps each cookie) Do not press the dough down .
Sprinkle the cookies lightly with a bit of fleur de sel or sea salt. Bake 10-12 minutes.
4. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on your baking sheet, then move them to wire rack to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.