Chewy Gingersnaps

December 18, 2012

Every year my friend B and her mum host a mother-daughter Christmas cookie exchange. My favourite Christmas cookie is shortbread, but my mum has dibs on that recipe so I had to come up with something new.  I wanted something seasonal (somehow chocolate chip cookies just don’t seem Christmasy enough) and immediately thought of the chewy ginger cookies at Starbucks that I loved in law school.  I consulted my mum for a recipe and she sent me a clipping from the local paper that seemed to be exactly what I was looking for – chewy, gingery yumminess.  These turned out great and have now been my Christmas cookie exchange go to  for the past two years.

Chewy Gingersnaps || A Year in the Kitchen

Chewy Gingersnaps

From the Vancouver Sun
Makes approximately 36 cookies.

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (or regular salt will work just fine)
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 teaspoons (heaping) ground ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup baking molasses
additional sugar for rolling the cookies

Preheat oven to 325F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (or silpats, which I use and they are fantastic).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon.

Beat the oil, sugar and eggs until the mixture is smooth and light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the molasses, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix in the dry ingredients to make a firm dough. Cover and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Spread out additional sugar on a plate. Using lightly floured fingers, roll the dough into 3/4 inch balls then roll each ball in the granulated sugar, coating it evenly. Place on the baking sheets.

Bake until the cookies are puffed, cracked and lightly golden brown, about 12 – 15 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to a week. Freeze for longer storage.

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Peppermint Bark

February 2, 2010

I just finished off the last piece of this peppermint bark tonight after finding a bag of it in the freezer. Yes!

I have wanted to attempt a peppermint bark recipe ever since reading the buzz about Williams Sonoma’s version in multiple magazines and blogs. However, at $30 a tin, buying it was not an option. Luckily recipes for a homemade version abound on the internet. I picked and choosed from a bunch to come up with this super easy and very delicious recipe. I included it in my baking packages for friends and served it on several Christmas treat platters. It was always one of the first to go (in part, I think, because it is so pretty on a plate).

So when next Christmas rolls around relieve some of your holiday stress, bash up some candy canes and make this peppermint bark.

Peppermint Bark

3 cups chocolate chips (your choice of milk, dark or semisweet)
4 cups white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3/4 cup peppermint candy or candy canes, crushed

Preheat oven to 250F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the chocolate chips in an even layer on the foil and put in the oven for 5 minutes until almost melted. Remove from oven, smooth with a spatula. Put in refrigerator until firm, about 20 minutes.

Melt the white chocolate chips in a double boiler. Stir in the peppermint extract and let sit for two minutes.

Remove the chocolate from the fridge and pour the white chocolate on top, spreading to cover in an even layer.

Sprinkle the crushed candy over top.

Chill until hard and break into pieces.


Brownies

January 31, 2010

This is the only brownie recipe you will ever need.

These brownies taste exactly like the two-bite brownies you buy in the brown paper packaging. Even better, in the time it would take you to run down to 7-Eleven to satisfy a chocolate craving, you can whip up a batch. I have made them quite a few times to take to parties. When I have nothing planned, these are quick and I usually have the ingredients on hand. They are the perfect brownies – dense and chewy with a crusty top. Mmmmm. In fact, I think I might just whip up a batch for a get together with my girlfriends on Friday…

Brownies

Adapted from Inside a Black Apple
Yield: 16-20 brownies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 390F. Grease a 9 x 9-inch baking dish.

Melt the butter in the microwave or over the stove.

In a large bowl, mix together the butter and white and brown sugar. Once combined, add the eggs and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking as you add the vanilla, salt, flour and cocoa.

Pour the batter into the baking dish (it will be quite thick). Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before digging in.


Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

September 14, 2009

This recipe is dedicated to my ice-cream buddy, Ana. We used to work together and to help alleviate the boredom of our office jobs we turned to ice-cream. A quick trip downstairs for McDonald’s sundaes here. A run in the rain to Dairy Queen for Blizzards there. It helped make the day a lot more enjoyable and delicious.

Sadly, Ana is now leaving on an extended trip and our ice-cream days are coming to a close. As a parting gift, I offered to make her any ice-cream she could come up with. She requested chocolate and hazelnut, so I concocted this recipe. It was truly delicious (and even better served with some Decadent Chocolate Cake).

choc_hazel_icecream

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

2 cups whole milk
1 cup cream
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup Nutella
1 cup roasted hazelnuts, crushed

In a saucepan combine the milk, cream, and 1/2 cup sugar over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whip the egg yolks with the remaining sugar using an electric mixer until the eggs have become thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Temper the eggs by pouring in a 1/2 cup of the milk mixture into the egg mixture and stir. Add this mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Place a strainer over a medium bowl and pour the warm custard mixture through the strainer. Stir in the vanilla and hazelnut spread until it dissolves. Chill mixture for at least 3 hours to overnight.

Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker. Halfway through the churning process (about 10 minutes), add the hazelnuts. Once the churning/freezing is complete, transfer the ice cream to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap under the lid touching the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming. Freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.


Decadent Chocolate Cake

September 4, 2009

Sometimes when I am reading a really good book, I read it in rations. I don’t want to read it too quickly so that you I enjoy it just a little bit longer. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg was one such book. I have had it on my shelf for a while waiting for a time that I could really savour it and when I finally read it last week, I was not disappointed. Molly writes such lovely stories about her life and loved ones bookended by delicious recipes that are stories in themselves. The grand finale recipe in the book is the Winning Hearts and Minds cake. I had heard whisperings of it around the internet and if it is good enough for the author of a cookbook to serve at her own wedding, then I thought I might as well give it a go.

Jumping in headfirst, I made two cakes at once: one for a dinner with our parents and one as birthday cake for my friend, Ana. The first I served the day after baking it and the other I froze and served a week later. They were fantastic – dense and moist and super chocolaty. (The one that had been frozen may have even tasted better). Both times I served it accompanied by homemade ice cream (see here and here).

choc_cake

Decadent Chocolate Cake

From “A Homemade Life”
Yield: 8 servings

200 grams good-quality dark chocolate (I used Callebaut from the bulk aisle)
200 grams unsalted European-style butter (Dairyland makes one), cubed
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon flour

Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan with butter, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter again.

Chop the chocolate into smallish chunks and melt it gently with the butter in a double boiler, stirring regularly. Once combined, add the sugar and stir well. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Then add the eggs on at a time and stir well after each addition. Then add the flour. The batter should be smooth and glossy.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until the centre of the cake looks set and the top is shiny and a bit crackly-looking. Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 10 minutes; then carefully turn the cake out of the pan and revert it, so that the crackly side is facing upward. Allow to cool completely. The cake will deflate slightly as it cools.

Tip for Flipping the Cake: Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top of the pan followed by an upside down plate. Holding the plate and the cake pan together quickly flip them. Remove the pan, leaving the cake upside-down on the foil-covered plate. Then put a second plate (serving plate) upside-down on top of the cake, wedge two fingers between the plates to keep from squashing the cake, and flip the plates, so that the cake is once more facing up.

Serve in wedges at room temperature.


Reese’s Pieces Ice Cream

August 7, 2009

Okay. Time for another confession. For the past three days I have eaten pretty much nothing but Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese and this ice cream. It’s good, real good.

reeses_pieces_ice_cream

Reese’s Pieces Ice Cream

Yield: About 8 cups

2 cups cream
2 cups homogenized milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups Reese’s Pieces candy

Whisk the cream, milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until scalding (just under a simmer).

Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Temper the yolks by whisking in a bit of the cream mixture. Continue slowly adding the cream to the eggs until you have added about half the mixture (2 cups). Then pour it all back into the saucepan. Continue stirring until the mixture reaches 170F – 174F.  Stir in the vanilla then remove from the heat.

Pour into a bowl and cover the surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate overnight.

Crush the Reese’s Pieces with a rolling pin. Set aside.

The next day pour the mixture into your ice cream maker (I use the Kitchenaid Stand Mixer Attachment Ice Cream maker). Add the Reese’s Pieces halfway through the mixing, about after 10 minutes. Once the churning/freezing is complete, transfer the ice cream to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap under the lid touching the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming. Freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.


Mint Chip Ice Cream

August 1, 2009

“I am an ice cream genius!” I actually uttered these words aloud (and then texted them to C) after licking this ice cream off the spatula. It really is that good. The perfect combination of mint and dark chocolate.

We are in the middle of a heat wave in Vancouver and nothing says cool like ice cream. I recently bought the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid stand mixer and saw a good looking recipe for mint chip ice cream. So I raided the big pot of mint on the balcony and got to work. While it may take you 2 nights to make this, it is worth every second. Plus most of the time is spent in refrigeration and freezing. Go out and buy an ice cream maker, plant some mint and make this ice cream!!

mint_chip_ice_cream

Mint Chip Ice Cream

Adapted from The Kitchn
Yield: About 8 cups

2 to 3 cups mint leaves (or as much as you can safely take from your mint plants) (I used English Mint which has a subtler mint flavour)
2 cups cream
2 cups homogenized milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 ounces dark chocolate

Thoroughly wash the mint and pick the leaves from the stems. Roughly chop the leaves and pound with a large spoon in a bowl until they are bruised and smell “minty”.

Whisk the cream, milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it begins to steam, add the mint and remove from the heat. Cover and let steep for 2 to 3 hours.

Strain the mint leaves from the cream mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat until scalding (just under a simmer).

Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Temper the yolks by whisking in a bit of the cream mixture. Continue slowly adding the cream to the eggs until you have added about half the mixture (2 cups). Then pour it all back into the saucepan. Continue stirring until the mixture reaches 170F – 174F.  Stir in the vanilla then remove from the heat.

Pour into a bowl and cover the surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate overnight.

Chop the chocolate into chunks and flakes. Set aside.

The next day pour the mixture into your ice cream maker (I use the Kitchenaid Stand Mixer Attachment Ice Cream maker). Add the chocolate halfway through the mixing, about after 10 minutes. Once the churning/freezing is complete, transfer the ice cream to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap under the lid touching the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming. Freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.