Sunday, September 29, 2013

King Arthur Flour's Chocolate Shortbread

Chocolate Shortbread

We are now back from our trip to Italy and Amsterdam --- it was a great vacation --- but I have been looking forward to being home and cooking/baking again in our kitchen. 

While we were traveling, Colleen sent me the link to this recipe for Chocolate Shortbread and these comments: 

"I am always on the lookout for something I can bake that can ship well to William.  I think these may fit the bill.  The soft and chewy snickerdoodles that I sent to my daughter's friend at American University arrived in good shape and have made her very popular with her dorm mates.  Her roommate was uninterested in them at first because they lacked chocolate, but Lia forced her to try one.  And then she ate five.    I love having cookie recipes that you can bake ahead a day or two.  The chocolate chip cookies I make are delicious, but tend to be best 20 minutes out of the oven.

Here is the link to the Chocolate Shortbread.  The recipe is from the King Arthur's Flour folks.  I didn't use KA flour or cocoa.  I baked mine for the recommended time but they still seemed a bit under baked when I cut them.
They taste good, though.   I used salted butter (it is what I had on hand) and cut back on the salt a bit, but next time I will use unsalted butter instead.  The chocolate flavor is good and they are easy to mix up.

So some of the recipe reviewers said the cookies are better the next  day. I would say I agree.  I had a few for breakfast with my tea.  They are delicious.  The texture is not what I think of when I think of shortbread; mine aren't crisp/crunchy.  They are more like a cross between a cookie and fudge.  Soft and dense.  It may be that I under baked them, or it just may be the recipe.  I've looked into a lot of other recipes and all of them seem very similar (flour, butter, cocoa, salt) but a good number of them use powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar.  So I may give that a try and see what happens"    --- Colleen
I agree, this is a super easy recipe --- just be sure to start with very soft butter, and  I used parchment paper to make them easy to pop out of the pan.  Colleen said when she made it again she used tart pans with a removal bottom instead of a 9x9 square pan to make them easier to deal with. 
King Arthur Flour's Chocolate Shortbread
(Originally published in King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion Cookbook)

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt, extra-fine if possible
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa  (I used what I had -- Rademaker's*)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

  • 1) Preheat the oven to 300°F. For thin, crisp shortbread, grease two 8" square pans. For thicker shortbread, grease one 9" square pan.
    2) To avoid over-creaming, we recommend that you stir the dough by hand. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the butter, salt, and sugar until well blended.
    3) Add the cocoa, vanilla, baking powder, and flour, and mix until you have a smooth, slightly stiff batter.
    4) Press the dough into your prepared pan(s) and prick all over with a fork. This will keep the shortbread from developing bubbles under the crust.
    5) Bake the shortbread in two pans for 35 to 40 minutes; the single 9" pan will take about 50 minutes.
    Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.
    6) Invert the pan(s) over a clean sheet of parchment and turn out the shortbread. While still warm, cut each square into 12 pieces. Cool completely before serving.
    Yield: 12 to 24 pieces, depending on thickness


    Friday, September 20, 2013

    Soft and Chewy Snickerdoodles by Colleen

    Hi Barb---
    I have a new Snickerdoodle recipe. It is for the person who likes a soft, chewy doodle. I made it for a friend's daughter who is off to college and knew that the typical doodle would not survive the trip through the mail. It has good flavor and I like the texture.
    Here is the recipe. From a website called Sally's Baking Addiction

    Snickerdoodles Soft and Chewy!

    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
    1 and 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    1 large egg
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons cream of tartar
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    2 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Line two large cookie sheets
    with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

    2. Make the topping: toss 1/4 cup granulated sugar with 1 teaspoon
    cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

    3. Make the cookies: In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed. Get it nice and smooth, then add the sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Mix in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed. Set aside.

    4. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, cream oftartar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 different parts. The dough is quite thick and you may have to stir the rest by hand.

    5. Take 1.5 - 2 Tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Roll the dough balls into the reserved cinnamon-sugar topping. Sprinkle extra cinnamon-sugar on top if desired. Bake cookies for 11-12 minutes. The cookies will be very puffy and soft. When they are still very warm, lightly
    press down on them with the back of a spoon or fork to help flatten themout. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Note: I didn't mention that I used the full two tablespoons of dough to make a big cookie. Which meant that they took about 13-15 minutes to bake, instead of 11-12. Of course ovens vary. But mine were not baked through at 11minutes.

    Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    Red Bell Pepper and Tomato Sauce with Basil by Colleen

    Hi Barb --

    Alexandra's Kitchen recipe popped up in my inbox. She posted it by way of Tra Vigne cookbook. Looks good, easy and foolproof. I haven't made, but I assume that I might be able to manage such a thing. Feeling a little less confident after the bolognese episode. I finally hit that pot with a lot of truffle salt (for umami) and garlic from Penzey's. Then I froze it all and decided that in a month or two when life is crazy I will defrost and think it is really really good because it is here and I am starving. Perspective is everything.


    Red Bell Pepper and Tomato Sauce with Basil

    Inspired by a red pepper tomato sauce in The Tra Vigne Cookbook , the book that introduced me to summer squash spaghetti, another favorite recipe this time of year

    2 red bell peppers (to yield about 2 cups chopped), stemmed and seeded
    2 beefsteak tomatoes (to yield about 2 cups chopped)
    water, about 1/2 cup
    kosher salt
    freshly cracked pepper
    fresh basil leaves, (1/4 to 1/2 cup loosely packed)
    1 to 2 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
    1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil

    1. Dice the peppers. Depending on the size, you will have about 2 cups. Place in a medium-sized saucepan or pot. Dice the tomatoes. Again, depending on the size you should have about 2 cups. Add to the pot. Pour in 1/2 cup water and turn heat to high. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I have been using about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.

    2. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat down to medium high. Set a timer for 25 minutes. After about five minutes, the tomatoes and peppers will begin to release their juices, and the whole mixture should be bubbling. Adjust the heat if necessary so that the mixture stays at a constant bubble ‹ medium to medium-high should do it. Stir every five minutes or so to make sure the tomatoes and peppers are not sticking to the bottom of the pan. If they are, add water by the quarter cup.

    3. After about 25 minutes or more or less ‹ when the peppers and tomatoes are tender and nearly all of the liquid has evaporated ‹ add the basil to the pot, give it a stir, then transfer the contents of the pot to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Add as much butter and olive oil as you like. I use 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Blend again until smooth. Taste. Adjust seasoning as necessary.


    Monday, September 9, 2013

    Tomatoes!--- A Welcome Surprise

    From Ernie's Mother's Garden
    Nothing is better this time of year than garden tomatoes!  We were the lucky recipients of these today.  Thanks Ernie and Joe!

    Thursday, September 5, 2013

    Grilled Flank Steak Salad with Corn Cilantro Dressing by Tom

    Grilled Flank Steak with Corn Cilantro Dressing

    We have made this recipe several times, but much to our chagrin had never posted it.  It is a wonderful way to take advantage of all of the fresh corn available this time of year, as well as to have a healthy meal.  We discovered it in "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook" several years ago and have made it for family and friends.  Again a good friend was coming over and we were looking for an easy yet tasty recipe.  This is it!


    Grilled Flank Steak with Corn Cilantro Dressing
    (adapted from New Mayo Clinic Cookbook)
    Serves 6

    3 cups corn, cut from about three or four ears, of fresh corn (you can substitute thawed frozen corn if you prefer)
    1/2 cup vegetable stock or broth (we used white wine and olive oil instead)
    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (we used juice of two limes)
    1 red bell pepper - 2 tablespoons chopped red pepper to be used in the vinaigrette. Julienne the remaining bell pepper for the salad itself
    1 shallot
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro -- we used lots more
    1 tablespoon cumin
    2 teaspoons dried oregano
    1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1 pound flank steak, larger if you prefer but then be mindful of the rub proportions
    1 large head romaine lettuce, trimmed and cut bite-sized pieces (we used 3 small ones, pre-washed)
    2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
    1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (1 can of black beans drained works as well)

    In a small bowl mix together the cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.

    Rub both sides of the flank steak and let sit.  I did this several hours before we started the rest of the recipe and refrigerated.  This rub gave the flank steak a really good flavor.

    Fresh corn from a local farm.

    An easy technique I learned somewhere to prevent corn from flying everywhere when cutting from the cob is to cut the ear of corn in a large bowl.  Using a sharp chef's knife, trim the corn from the ears of corn.

    Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the corn and cook until the corn just starts to brown.  Stir frequently to prevent burning.  Take off the burner and set aside to cool.

    In a food processor add one cup of the cooked corn, the stock (or wine/olive oil combo), lime juice, the shallot and the chopped red bell pepper.  Pulse to puree this.  Now add the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and lots of the chopped cilantro.  Pulse to blend and then set aside.  Will be thick.  If necessary, add more stock to thin enough to dress the salad.

    In a large bowl combine the lettuce, tomatoes, onion, black beans.

    Next add the julienned red bell pepper and the roasted corn.

    Add the corn cilantro dressing to the salad mixture, but don't toss yet.

    Take as is to the table for your guests to admire ;-).

    Now grill the flank steak over a very hot fire.  I find flank steak grills very quickly, so only a couple of minutes a side is more than enough.  Flank steak is best when medium rare.

    Let sit for at least 10 minutes, and then slice into 1/2" thick pieces.

    Toss the salad and plate.  Put 2-3 slices of flank steak on top and the dish is ready to eat.

    This is an excellent warm weather meal.  I highly recommend it.