Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pecan Lace Cookies

The next treat I made was a mango frozen yogurt and I felt it needs something to go with it.  Something crunchy to contrast with the creamy and smooth texture of the frozen yogurt.  I decided to make these pecan lace cookies.  Lace cookie is a type of cookies that are delicate, very thin and can be rolled or shaped into various forms.  Frankly, I've never attempted to make lace cookies before but I'm alway game to try something new.

Lace cookies are usually made with some kind of ground or finely chopped nuts.  The batter is quite thin and the cookie will spread when baking.  A variety of shapes can be made; when it's round and one side of the cookie is dipped in chocolate, you might know it as florentine cookie.  In this case, my choice of nuts was pecans and since I have quite a bit of palm sugar brought from Indonesia, I thought using it would make an interesting flavor combination.   Palm sugar has a distinct taste, a slightly burnt sugar-caramely aftertaste, and the color of the cookie is very dark.  The edges are brittle while the middle is a bit chewy, this could be another addiction (already thinking of making different kinds).  Overall, these are pretty successful and I played around with the shapes--some resulting in a kind of wavy configuration :)  And these don't last long at my house!

The recipe for mango frozen yogurt will be written soon...

Pecan Lace Cookies

Makes 16 to 20 4-inch cookies

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup packed palm sugar--alternately, use regular brown sugar or light muscovado sugar

1 tablespoon dark rum

1 large egg

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degree F.  Position a rack in the center of the oven.  Plan to bake only one sheet at a time.  Use of silicone mats is highly recommended, it makes baking these cookies so much easier.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Stir in the sugar and remove from the heat.  Add the rum, egg, and salt and beat until smooth.  Stir in the flour and nuts.  Let the batter rest for 5 minutes.  Drop tablespoons of batter about 3 inches apart on one of the lined pans.

Spread the batter very thin (about 1/16 inch) into rounds, oval, or long tongue shapes.

Bake until the cookies are browned all over, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet from front to back halfway through the baking time.  Remove the pan from the oven.  For flat cookies, let cookies cool for 30 seconds before transferring them to a rack to cool.  If the cookies are to be shaped, let rest for 30 seconds, then slide an offset spatula under each and shape as desired by draping the cookies over a rolling pin, nestling them into a cup, rolling them into cornets, or pinching or twisting them into any desired shape before they cool.  Cool completely before storing.  May be kept in an airtight container for at least 1 week.

Source:  adapted from Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy, Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mint Brownie Wedges

I love mint, in ice cream, in cakes, in brownies.  Place a wedge of this brownie alongside a glass of milk, a dollop of whipped cream (or vanilla ice cream); dessert is served.  The idea of making this last night came because I found out I still had a couple of bags of dark and chocolate mint morsels.  Those particular flavor usually comes out during winter holidays, especially at Christmastime.  Well, I thought to myself, why not making it; it's like having Christmas in July, isn't it?

Except why would I do with this particular flavor?  Upon looking at the back of the bag, I discovered a recipe that's pretty interesting and seemed quite tasty.  It was also quite easy with ingredients that I've already had on hand.  Never mind that I was in the middle of baking my daily bread and quite late--I think I like baking late at night--but, hey, the oven was ready anyway :)

I finally had a taste today after I whipped some fresh cream with a bit of sugar.  The wedges reveal dark, fudgy middle, with crackly top.  Hint of mint permeates the brownie balanced by the dark chocolaty undertone.  Since the morsels were incorporated in three different steps, I could taste them all the way till the last bite.  I must say that whipped cream slightly underperformed this time, vanilla ice cream is a much better choice.

Mint Brownie Wedges

Makes 12 servings

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 tablespoons water

1 2/3 cups dark chocolate & mint morsels, divided

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

Sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 325 degree F.  Grease 9-inch springform pan.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Combine sugar, butter and water in medium saucepan.  Warm over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until butter is melted, do not boil.  Remove from heat.  Add 3/4 cup morsels and vanilla extract.  Stir until morsels are nearly melted.  Add eggs, one at a time, stirring until smooth.  Stir in flour mixture.  Stir in 1/2 cup morsels.  Spread into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with remaining morsels.

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky.  Cool in pan on wire rack.  Remove side of pan.  Cut into wedges.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.