Salted Caramel Almond Cookies

April 27th, 2017

Salted Caramel Almond Cookies 4

I try very hard not to eat sweets.  But there are a few sweets that I can’t resist.  They all seem to have a hint of salt.  Salted dark chocolate is a favorite.  But while we were in Paris a few years ago, I fell in love with salted caramel macarons. The caramel was sweet and smooth. The salt added just the right counterpoint. I have been in love with that combination ever since.

Salted Caramel Almond Cookies

Because I have not mastered macarons yet, this recipe for Salted Caramel Almond Cookies fit into my “can do” repertoire. The cookies are buttery and nutty on the outside and richly caramel with a bit of salt at the center.  It hits all of the right taste buds in your mouth.

Salted Caramel Almond Cookies 2

As an aside, the worn cutting board that the cookies are on was my Mother’s and my Grandmothers before her.  They both used it to roll out their pie crusts.  It is one of my treasured possessions.

Lake Lure Spring 2

I love Spring at the lake.  We have had lots of rain but a few mornings ago the sun came out and reflected the vibrant spring green of the trees onto the lake.  It was magical.

SALTED CARAMEL ALMOND COOKIES (Bliss Victoria Magazine)

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped sliced almonds
Caramel (recipe follows)
Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy.  Add egg yolks, on at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla extract.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, nutmeg, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until combined.  Roll mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls.

In a small bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy.

In a separate small bowl, place almonds.

Dip cooke balls in egg whites, letting excess drip off; dredge in almonds to coat. Place 2 inches apart on prepared pans.  Using a spoon, make an indentation in center of cookies.

Bake for 10 minutes. carefully press indentations down again; bake until cookies are lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes more.  Let cool on pans for 2 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely on wire racks.

Spoon warm Caramel into indentations in cookies.  Let stand at room temperature until caramel is cool.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.  Serve immediately, or store in airtight containers for up to 5 days.

CARAMEL

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream at room temperature

In a large skillet,whisk together sugar, 1/2 cup water, and corn syrup; bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is honey-colored, about 10 minutes. (Mine took longer).  Add butter, whisking until melted.  Remove from heat, and gradually whisk in cream until mixture is smooth.  Pour into a heatproof container.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

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A French Cake and Cookies for Christmas

December 12th, 2016

French Christmas Cake and Cookies

My cottage was supposed to be on a local Christmas Tour this year.  Since it has a country French look to it, we decided to carry the theme throughout the house.  David downloaded some lovely Christmas carols sung in French and I made Eiffel Tower sugar cookies and a French Cake from Mimi Thorisson.  Because of the fire on the mountain, the tour was cancelled . . . so, I ended up with a freezer full of cookies and this delicious cake.

French Christmas Cake and Cookies

The sugar cookies are simple.  Use your favorite sugar cookie recipe.  I used this one from Alton Brown. You can use royal icing or any white icing that you prefer.  Sprinkle with gold sparkles and the Eiffel Towers will glow as if they were lit.  I bought my eiffel tower cookie cutter on line.

French Christmas Cake

I received French Country Cooking by Mimi Thorisson in October.  I had pre-ordered it from Amazon.  This is her second book and it is just as delightful as her first book, A Kitchen in France.  She says about this salted butter chocolate cake “This is the dessert I make when I don’t know what dessert to make.  It sounds like a second choice, but it’s not at all.  It’s the popular choice, the one that I know everybody will always like and that never goes out of fashion.  The salted butter is a subtle touch; you can taste it, but I’m careful never to let it overpower the chocolate, which would be hard anyway, because this cake is just so chocolate-y.  I like to bake this cake so it’s set but still moist, but my kids often ask me to take it out a minute or two earlier so it’s runny and delicious.  The choice is yours.”

French Christmas Cake and Cookies

All of these treats will remain in the freezer until Christmas.  It feels good to have a stash of goodies ready to go for family and friends.

SALTED BUTTER CHOCOLATE CAKE (Mimi Thorisson)

6 1/2 Tablespoons Salted Butter, plus more for the pan
8 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, Chopped
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
A Handful of Red Berries or Currants
Confectioners’ Sugar for Serving

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

Pour an inch or two of water into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Combine the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set on top of the pan of simmering water.  Stir until the butter and chocolate are melted.  Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.  In another bowl, sift the flour and add the fleur de sel.

Stir the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.  Add the vanilla.  Fold in the flour until just combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 30 minutes.

Let cool in the pan for at least 1 hour before unmolding.  Serve topped with berries, if desired, and a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.

Printable Recipe

Moon and Stars Cookies

December 13th, 2015

Moon and Star Cookies 4

The holidays are moving quickly in our house.  We were late arriving in Florida this year because of all of the follow-up Doctor’s appointments that I had.  The leg is healing well and we finally moved back last week.  The tree and wreaths went up quickly, but the Christmas baking has taken some time.  We are also preparing to put the house on the market in January.  Therefore I am trying to simplify the baking tasks.

Moon and Stars Cookies 1

No frosted and decorated cookies are in my arsenal this year.  But I had to make my Swedish crescent cookies.  It is the one tradition that can’t be altered.  These buttery melt in your mouth cookies are the best.  To pair with these crescent moon cookies I made Dorie Greenspan’s speculoos.  These crisp spicy Belgium cookies celebrate the name day of Saint Nicholas and are served everywhere in the country at Christmas time.  The cinnamon aroma scents your kitchen while they are baking.

Moom and Stars Cookies 5V

The speculoos are easy, but be aware that the rolled out dough requires a three hour rest in the refrigerator before being cut and baked. Now I am off to wrap presents.  Christmas and New Year’s are right around the corner.  If only I had some snow!  Enjoy the Season.

SWEDISH CRESCENT COOKIES

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped or ground almonds or pecans
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 325°F. In large bowl, beat 1/2 cup powdered sugar, the butter and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. On low speed, beat in flour, almonds and salt until dough forms.

With floured hands, shape heaping tablespoons of dough into crescent shapes and place on ungreased baking sheet 1-inch apart.

Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until set but not brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Place 3/4 cup powdered sugar in small bowl. Roll cookies in powdered sugar. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Roll in powdered sugar again. Cookies can be placed in an airtight container and freeze up to 3 weeks. Before serving, thaw the cookies and reroll them in powdered sugar.

SPECULOOS (Dorie Greenspan)

Be prepared:  The rolled-out dough needs to be chilled for at least 3 hours.

Makes about 70 cookies – I used a 2″ star cutter and got around 35 cookies

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 (packed) cup light brown sugar
1 LARGE EGG, AT ROOM TEMPERATURE

Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices together in a bowl.

Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy.  Add the sugars and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.  ADD THE EGG AND CONTINUE TO BEAT UNTIL IT, TOO, IS BLENDED INTO THE BUTTER AND SUGARS.  With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until the flour disappears into the soft dough.  You may have some flour at the bottom of the bowl, or the dough may not be entirely smooth, but that’s normal.  Using your hands (always my first choice) or a spatula, reach into the bowl and knead or stir the dough 2 or 3 times, just enough to eliminate any dry spots.

Divide the dough in half.  (The dough is very soft, even after you refrigerate it for several hours, so if your kitchen is hot, you might want to divide the dough into thirds – that way it won’t take you as long to cut out the cookies and the dough won’t soften as much.)  Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap until you have a circle that’s a scant ¼ inch thick.  As you’re rolling, turn the dough over a couple of times and pull away the paper or plastic, so you don’t end up rolling creases into the dough.  Put the rolled-out rounds of dough on a tray or cutting board and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 2 months.)

When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Have a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Choose a cookie cutter – I like to use a scalloped cutter that’s 1 1/4-inches in diameter – and remove 1 circle of dough from the refrigerator.  Peel off the top piece of wax paper or plastic and cut out as many cookies as you can from the dough,carefully lifting the cutouts onto the lined baking sheet.  Collect the scraps and set them aside to combine with the scraps from the second piece of dough.

Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are lightly golden and just slightly brown around the edges.  Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool.

Repeat with the second round of dough, making certain the baking sheet is cool before you put the cutouts on it.  To use the scraps, press them together, roll them into a circle, and chill them before cutting and baking.

Serving:  The cookies are just right with coffee, made for espresso and tea and really good nibbled as a snack.

Storing:  The dough can be wrapped airtight and kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.  Kept in an airtight container, the cookies will be fine for a week or more.

Printable Recipe Swedish Crescent Cookies 

Printable Recipe Speculoos

Chewy Pecan and Chocolate Diamonds

November 29th, 2015

Pecan triangles 1

We had a festive Thanksgiving celebration with the kids this year.  My DIL Kristen is a creative cook and likes to shake things up a bit.  Instead of a traditional pecan pie, she made these Chewy Pecan and Chocolate Diamonds.  The original recipe came from Epicurious.   The shortbread crust is topped with a caramel pecan topping.  To make it even more delicious, Kristen added chocolate chips to the final baking.

Pecan triangles 2

We loved these bars.  By cutting them into diamond shapes, there are edge scraps left for the cook and other family recipients.  Your guests or gift receivers can have the pretty ones, but the scraps are a treat just for you.  I will be making these as Christmas treats.

Pumpkin Profiterol 2

 

Instead of Pumpkin Pie, we had Pumpkin Custard Profiteroles with Maple Caramel.  Rachel helped her Mom make these amazing cream puffs.Mother and Daughter cooking

Rachel Cooking

It is great to have the kids participate in the meal preparation.  Four year old Cameron also got into the act by helping with the pecan diamonds.

Thanksgiving 2015 with Cam

As the casseroles came out of the oven, Michael carved the turkey and we sat down to our delicious meal. I am thankful for my family and for all of you who follow my blog.

To get you into the Christmas spirit watch this video of Rachel.  She is a new member of a competitive jump roping team and shows lots of talent.  https://youtu.be/ly-yG94eqBU   Here is another one https://youtu.be/QQJBbWjG-F4  Our dog, Daisy seems to be enjoying the show.  Rachel’s team will be performing at Disney World and possibly at next year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

CHEWY PECAN AND CHOCOLATE DIAMONDS

INGREDIENTS

  1. Crust
    • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  2. topping
    • 1 1/4 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    • 4 cups coarsely chopped pecans (about 14 1/2 ounces)
    • 1/2 cup whipping cream
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

PREPARATION

  1. for crust:
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, leaving 1-inch overhang on all sides. Butter foil. Blend flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch and salt in processor. Add butter and process until mixture begins to clump together. Press dough evenly onto bottom of foil-lined pan. Bake crust until set and light golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Let stand while preparing topping. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
  2. for topping:
    1. Stir brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture boils; boil 1 minute. Add pecans and cream; boil until mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Pour hot topping over warm crust.
    2. Bake nut-topped crust until caramel is darker and bubbles thickly, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to rack. Cool completely in pan (topping will harden).
    3. Lift foil out of pan onto cutting board. Using heavy sharp knife, cut crust with nut topping into 1 1/2×1-inch diamonds. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store between sheets of waxed paper in airtight container at room temperature.)

For variation, add 1 cup of chocolate chips sprinkled over the top near the end of baking time.

Printable Recipe

Sarah Bernhardt Cookies

December 8th, 2014

Christmas Cookies 14 2

I made a new cookie for the holidays this year.  The minute I received my copy of  A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson, I knew that the Sarah Bernhardt cookies would be on my Christmas table.  Sarah Bernhardt cookies or cakes, as they are sometimes called, originated in Copenhagan Denmark in 1911 where a local chef made them for the French actress when she traveled there to promote the publication of her memoirs.  She was purported to have loved them.  Mimi Thorisson shared that she learned to make them from her Icelandic Mother-in-law.  They have now become a Christmas tradition in her household.  I can see why.

Christmas Cookies 14 3

They start with a meringue made from egg whites, confectioners’ sugar and almond flour.  I had to experiment with how large to make these and whether to use two spoons to form them or pipe them through a pastry bag.  I would recommend the bag.  It was much easier to handle the sticky dough that way.  After the meringues have cooled and put in the freezer for a short chill, they are frosted with a coffee and chocolate infused mixture.

Christmas Cookies 14 4

After the frosted meringues go back into the freezer to chill, they are then dipped in melted dark chocolate.  Even though there are a lot of steps to making them, Sarah Bernhardt cookies are well worth the time.  They are a mouthful of crisp meringue, soft frosting and rich dark chocolate.  I think it will take me some time to perfect this cookie.  For instance, I frosted the rounded side and dipped that in chocolate so that the flat bottoms would be stable.  The pictures I have seen were rounder because the frosting was piled on the flat side and then dipped in chocolate.  They are even more beautiful garnished with candied violets as I saw on one post.

Christmas Table 1

I am well on my way to completing my cookie baking.  So far I have made Mexican wedding cookies,  Chocolate and Pecan Shortbread Bars,  and the Sarah Bernhardt cookies.  This year I am wrapping my cookies in clear plastic bags tied with red ribbons.

Christmas Cookies 14 1

I hope you will find the time to make these delicious cookies.  They are worth a relaxing moment and maybe a sigh of satisfaction with a cup of tea or coffee.

SARAH BERNHARDT COOKIES (Mimi Thorisson)

Makes 40 to 50 individual cookies depending on size

For the Meringues:
4 large egg whites
2 1/3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 cups almond flour

For the Frosting:
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks ( I used pasteurized eggs because the eggs are not cooked)
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder, dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water and cooled
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

11 ounces good dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Make the meringue.  Whip the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until frothey.  Gradually add the sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue whipping until the egg whites form stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.  Gently fold in the almond flour.  Using two spoons or a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, spoon or pipe the egg whites onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.  The meringues should be 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide and 1/3 to 1/2 inch high.

Bake until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets for 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Transfer the cooled meringues to a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze while you make the frosting.

Make the frosting.  With a wooden spoon, in a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the butter until smooth.  Whisk the egg yolks in another medium bowl until pale and thick, then gradually stir into the butter mixture.  Pour in the dissolved coffee, add the cocoa powder, and mix until the frosting is smooth and thick.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to firm up a bit, 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove the meringues from the freezer.  Use a spoon or a palette knife to spread about 1 1/2 teaspoon frosting over the bottom of each meringue.  Return to the freezer frosting side up for 15 minutes to harden.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Bring an inch or two of water to a simmer in a saucepan, put the bowl on top, and melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes ( You can use the microwave if your prefer.)  Remove from the heat.  The chocolate should be just warm to the touch; if it is warmer, let it cool a bit.

Dip the frosted side of each meringue in the melted chocolate so the frosting is entirely covered.  Let set on a large piece of parchment paper.

Line a large container with parchment paper and arrange the meringues in it, layering them between sheets of parchment.  Cover the paper and close the lid tightly.  The meringues will keep in the freezer for up to a month.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.