Chocolate Cookies

May 22, 2011

Margaux says . . .

These cookies are delicious, and very simple to make! They also are a good option when wanting to make a sweet on a whim, as the ingredients are usually on-hand in most kitchens. I’m sure you could use regular cocoa powder instead of Dutch processed, and they would be just as delicious. The texture is crispy and chewy, and the sanding sugar makes them sparkly and pretty!

The flavor instantly reminded me of Oreo’s…it’s a rich, dark chocolate that isn’t too overly sweet and would pair really well with vanilla frosting. So I will definitely be making them again as homemade Oreo’s, using the vanilla frosting recipe below. I also am thinking these would be great for ice cream sandwiches, using any of your favorite ice cream flavors. I’m going to use Bobtail’s Merlot chocolate chip…I think it will be the perfect pairing!

Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies

from Martha Stewart’s Cookies cookbook

2 cups plus 2 tbsp all- purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
sanding sugar, for rolling

1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat to combine. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add flour mixture; beat to combine. Form dough into a flattened disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Roll each ball in sanding sugar. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until set, 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer to a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies from baking sheet to wire rack. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.


Vanilla Frosting (for filling)
from Cook’s Illustrated

1 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch table salt
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar

Stir the cream, vanilla, and salt together in a small bowl until the salt dissolves. Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium high speed until smooth, 30-60 seconds. Reduce speed to medium-low, slowly add sugar, and beat until smooth, 2-5 minutes. Beat in the cream mixture. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 4-8 minutes (the time depends on the strength of the mixer…with my KitchenAid it takes about 5 minutes or so).

Aunt Suzy says . . .

These cookies are a “must bake” for me every holiday season.  This year was no exception, although I made them very late – right before New Year’s Eve.  But then I heard on this radio spot about lucky New Year food traditions that some eat these for good luck on New Year’s Day thinking that the cookies are coin-like to represent money.   Although I heard this after New Year’s Day,  I was glad to have eaten them as part of our lucky New Year’s Day menu!

These cookies are called many different names – Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs, Butter Balls and others.  I’ve made a version of them for years from a recipe that was purportedly the one that Jackie Kennedy used which used powdered sugar as the dough sweetener.  Whenever I would tell my Mom (aka Granny) that I’d made these cookies, she’d ask “Did you make Grandma Teegarden’s (my Dad’s Mom) recipe – the one with honey?”  I would confess each year that I did not, having been enamored at a young age by Jackie Kennedy.  Last Christmas, I made both recipes and conducted taste tests, asking friends to say which they liked best.  The votes, including mine, were in overwhelming favor of Grandma T’s, so I think I have dumped Jackie O in favor of Grandma forever!

Margaux says…

I almost never make these cookies for Christmas because everyone else in my family does!  But this year I had a girls’ cookie baking get-together at my house, and my friend Jen wanted to make the Joy of Cooking version of these (which is exactly like the Jackie Kennedy recipe), and I swayed her to Grandma’s recipe instead.  They turned out perfectly, as usual!  This is definitely my favorite version of this recipe, and the times I have made them, this is the one I use.  It was actually one of the first recipes ever given to me (by my dad), when I was in grade school and first learning to bake!

Grandma’s Butter Balls – makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 tablespoons mild honey

2 cups sifted flour

½ teaspoon salt (omit if using toasted and salted pecans)

2 cups ground toasted pecans*

Powdered sugar for rolling

Instructions

Cream the butter, salt and vanilla with a electric mixer.  Add the honey and the flour and continue to beat on medium until thoroughly blended.  This will be a fairly stiff dough.  Stir in the nuts by hand.  Pinch off small amounts of dough and roll by hand into balls the size of walnuts.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes until the cookies are just starting to turn golden brown in spots.  Place the cookie sheet on a rack and let sit for a few minutes to set.  Place the powdered sugar in a pie plate or round cake pan.  Roll the cookies in the powdered sugar while cookies are still warm.  (Make sure you let them set or they can fall apart if too hot.)  You can roll them in powdered sugar again after a couple of minutes.

*A note on the pecans:  This year I bought a bag of toasted pecan pieces from Trader Joe’s and used those.  I had never used toasted pecans before in this recipe and they made a delicious cookie even better – toasted pecans are the way to go!  The pecans need to be chopped or ground fairly finely, but be careful not to overdo it or they will become powdery or oily which will not result in a good cookie.  These low-tech vintage nut grinders are perfect for the job and, I just discovered, available on eBay from $3 to $20.  The one I use is on the left.

 

sweet and savory kitchens chocolate guinness cake

Margaux says…

I’m a sucker for recipes that have ingredients you wouldn’t normally put together, like this one.  So when Aunt Suzy told me about this cake last year, I had to try it!  And oh, is it heavenly.  It’s rich, dense and chocolatey, and the frosting is fluffy, tangy and light…a perfect combination!  It’s always a hit with everyone.  It’s also a good dessert for St. Patrick’s day…for obvious reasons!  🙂

Sweet and Savory Kitchens Chocolate Guinness Cake

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Our friend Pat Eaton, of Madison, Wisconsin, served this when we were visiting them a couple of years ago.   I made it very shortly after returning home for a card party and it was a hit.  This is a very easy cake to make, with a method similar to Texas Cake.  I don’t have a spring form pan, so I used an 8×8 cake pan after researching Joy of Cooking for options.  It turned out nicely, but didn’t look nearly as good as the round shape, which is supposed to simulate a glass of Guinness with that beautiful foam.  I have also thought about making cupcakes with this recipe – they would be like mini-glasses of Guinness.  Have you ever tried making this as cupcakes, Margaux?

Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I made them as cupcakes for this St. Patrick’s day, and they were great!  I actually made them as jumbo cupcakes, and they made 11.  If you make them as regular sized cupcakes, they will make 22.  See instructions below for bake times.

This gives “butterbeer” a whole new meaning!  Yum!

Adding the sour cream/egg mixture creates a beautiful swirl…

I also made this last weekend for company, and accidentally forgot to add baking soda.  I put what I thought was baking soda in it, which ended up being extra fine sugar (it was in a matching container to the soda, but not labeled!)  That’s what I get for being lazy and not labeling everything in my pantry.  Needless to say, the cake was a flop (literally).  Hopefully the friends I made it for will trust me that it’s really delicious and make it again for themselves!  This time it turned out perfectly…I wish they didn’t live in Pittsburg so that I could share it with them.

sweet and savory kitchens

This cake is actually very easy to make, and you can do it pretty quickly because you don’t have to let the ingredients get to room temperature before mixing the batter (they all get cooked in the saucepan together before baking).

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper, or line muffin tins with paper cups.

1 cup Guinness stout
1 stick unsalted butter, sliced
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups superfine granulated sugar (Aunt Suzy uses about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Pour Guinness into a large saucepan, add butter and heat until melted. Whisk in cocoa powder and sugar.

In a small bowl, beat sour cream with eggs and vanilla and then pour into brown, buttery, beery mixture and finally whisk in dry ingredients.
Pour cake batter into greased and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until a toothpick inserted at center comes out clean (check at 45 minutes for doneness). Leave to cool completely in pan on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

For jumbo cupcakes, bake 24-27 minutes. For regular cupcakes, bake 18-22 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Place cream cheese and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl, and whip with an electric beater until smooth. (You may also do this with a food processor.) Add cream and beat again until you have a spreadable consistency, and it’s light and fluffy.

Frost top of cake, starting at the middle and fanning out, so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

sweet and savory kitchens chocolate guinness cake

Margaux says  . . .

I want to make EVERYTHING in the November Martha Stewart Living issue.  Yes, I love Martha Stewart.  The magazine is beautiful and smart, and has tons of good recipes in it (most of the time).  I realize that it’s not cool to like Martha Stewart, but I don’t really care!  It’s the only magazine I get, and I’m proud of it. November’s issue was the best one in months…every page has delicious looking goodies that I can’t wait to make!  This is the first of many things I’ll be trying out from it.

I absolutely love pumpkin anything, and make lot’s of pumpkin treats all through the fall.  The goat cheese frosting is what stood out to me in this recipe, plus the quince compote sounded really interesting, as I’ve never tried quince before!  You could do the cake without the compote, and it is very tasty.  But the compote really makes the cake, I think…it adds a little extra sweetness, and is a nice light balance with the heaviness of the cake and frosting.   The frosting isn’t super sweet, which I love, but for you sweet tooths out there, I would add a little more powdered sugar.  The batter is very thick-not a typical cake batter.  And it took mine much longer to bake than 35 minutes-more like 45.  But the oven I was using wasn’t completely accurate, so make sure you check it at 35 first!

I made this for my Aunt Annie’s 70th birthday party, and we were at my mom’s house down in central Illinois, so I had to “rough it” while baking.  I only had a hand mixer, and the lighting in her kitchen is pretty dim.  She hates cooking (although her kitchen is beautiful!), so she doesn’t have all the luxuries I’m used to.  However, it was lucky that I was there because she has 8″ cake pans, and I don’t!  So it worked out perfectly.

I am definitely going to make this particular cake recipe a regular for fall!  I love the addition of fresh ginger.  I usually make a pumpkin cake at least once every fall season, and the one I’ve been using isn’t nearly as good!  It would also be a good recipe to use for brunch muffins…plain, no frosting or topping.


Pumpkin Layer Cake
from Martha Stewart Living November 2010 issue

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans and parchment
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for parchment
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups solid packed pumpkin (from one 14.5 oz. can)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350. Brush two 8-inch round cake pans with butter; line with circles of parchment, and brush with butter. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Which together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp salt.
2. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in pumpkin; add vanilla and ginger. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk, and beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down side of bowl as needed. Divide batter between pans.
3. Bake cakes until golden brown, pulling away from sides of pans, and until a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 35 minutes (mine took about 10-12 minutes longer than that!).  Let cool in pans set on wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert cakes on to racks. Let cool.
4. evenly spread half the goat cheese frosting on top of 1 cake. Top with the second cake, and frost top with the remaining frosting. Top cake with some quince-ginger compote, and serve remainder on the side.

Goat Cheese Frosting

Makes 3 cups.

1 lb. cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Beat cheeses until combined. Gradually add sugar, and beat until smooth and creamy.

Quince-Ginger Compote

Overly ripe quinces may not retain their shape as the simmer, so it’s best to use ones that have just ripened.

3 cups off-dry white wine, such as Riesling
1 1/2 cups water, plus more if needed
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 thin slices peeled fresh ginger (from one 2-inch piece)
3 lbs just ripened quince, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Bring wine, water, sugar, and ginger to a simmer in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Add quinces. (Add more water if needed to cover fruit.) reduce heat, and simmer gently until quinces are tender, 25 to 45 minutes, depending on ripeness of fruit.
2. Transfer quinces to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Bring liquid in saucepan to a simmer, and cook until slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes. (This part took me about 15-20 minutes…you really need to cook it down quite a bit to get the right consistency. Remove and discard ginger. Stir in lemon juice. Pour syrup over quinces. Let stand until cool. Refrigerate if desired.

Margaux says…

I actually made this cake awhile ago, and am finally getting around to posting about it.  It was the first cold snap of the year, and I was really getting in the mood to bake fall-like things, but didn’t have a ton of time on my hands.  This spice cake was the perfect fix for my autumnal dessert yearning, and it was super easy to make.   Also, the ingredients are things that most cooks and bakers have around all of the time, so it’s a great cake for your spontaneous baking repertoire.   It’s perfectly spicy, and has a dense and moist texture.  The browned butter icing adds the perfect amount of sweetness.

Velvet Spice Cake
from The All New Joy of Cooking

Have all ingredients at room temperature, 68-70 degrees F. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour one 9-inch tube pan or one 8-10 cup fluted tube or Bundt pan.

Sift together twice:
2 1/3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp freshly grated or ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, beat until creamy, about 30 seconds:
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

Gradually add and beat on high speed until lightened in color and texture, 2-4 minutes:
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar

Beat in one at a time:
3 large eggs
1 egg white

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with, in 2 parts:
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp yogurt or buttermilk

Mix until just incorporated, preferably by hand. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Slide a thin knife around the cake to detach it from the pan, or tap the sides of the fluted tube or Bundt pan against the counter to loosen the cake. Invert the cake, then let cool, right side up or inverted, on the rack.

Browned Butter Icing

6 tbsp butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, constantly swirl the pan over the heat until the butter becomes deep golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla. Scrape it into a bowl and beat until smooth and spreadable. Use immediately, while still warm, so that it will pour over the cake more easily.

Texas Cake

July 2, 2010

Margaux says

This is everyone’s favorite cake in my family, even those who aren’t huge fans of cake.  We typically have it in the summer, for the 4th of July and my Granny’s birthday.  We also randomly have it for birthdays and other special occasions throughout the year.  It’s rich, chocolaty and buttery, which is probably due to the three sticks of butter in it.  As my Granny says, “with three sticks of butter, what’s not to like?”  I made it for Father’s Day…I gave Jason two choices: Texas cake or strawberry pie.  Despite being more of a pie lover, he chose this cake.

Aunt Suzy Says

My Mom (aka Granny) learned about this recipe sometime in the 1970’s and it has become a staple, as Margaux says, at family birthdays and other events ever since.  I will add to the quote . . . “with 3 sticks of butter and a cup of sour cream, what’s not to like?”  🙂  Some in our family have started making this without the nuts, although I think the nuts add a great texture contrast to the rich, gooeyness of the cake.  And Margaux’s Dad has made this into cupcakes that he calls TDF’s (to die fors), which I think are a fun alternative way to make this recipe.  A few years ago, Randy and I visited his best friend’s Mom, Susie Sutton, and she served this cake but called it Mississippi Mud cake.  This tickled me since she lived in Texas!  So, Margaux . . . . serve with ice cream or not?  What do you think?

Margaux says

ICE CREAM!  And a cup of coffee. When I was a kid, I was a purist and would only eat my 3 (or more) pieces of Texas cake without ice cream.   But now I need it to cut the richness of the cake.

The Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 10×15 jelly roll sheet.

2 sticks butter

1 cup water

4 tablespoons cocoa

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 cups sugar

½ cup sour cream (Susie Sutton used buttermilk)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt the first 3 ingredients in a saucepan.  Do not boil.  Cool.

Place the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla and sour cream and mix well.

Slowly add the cocoa mixture.  Pour all into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Frost while warm with pecan frosting.

Pecan Frosting

Place 1 stick butter, 4 tablespoons cocoa and 6 tablespoons milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add 1 box of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup chopped pecans and beat till smooth.  You will want the frosting to be a little runny so it doesn’t tear the cake.  Pour over the cake while still warm.

Margaux says

So I have to admit, I subscribe to Martha Stewart Living. It’s ideal for me, because I like crafty stuff, as well as liking to cook and bake. So it saves me from having to subscribe to multiple magazines, since I barely have time to read just the one. Plus, its really, really good. This month’s Martha had a chocolate chip recipe that was supposedly for everyone: people who like chewy cookies, and people who like crispy cookies. My husbands favorite cookies are chocolate chip, so I thought I have to try this one, since its claiming to be the best. I seem to be on a cookie kick lately, which is kind of weird…I’m usually more of a cake/pie baker. But I’m finding that its easier to throw together a batch of cookies with a one-year-old running around my feet than anything else. I can also just bake one or two sheets, then save the dough for later when I have more time.

This chocolate chip recipe is only slightly different from the one on the back of the Toll House chip bag, which is what I usually use. I like using the dark brown sugar…it gave them a little more flavor. These definitely lived up to Martha’s testimonial of being the best! They didn’t fall flat like every other recipe that I’ve used do, and they have a chewy center with a nice crispy edge. Just make sure that you don’t over-do them…they need to be just turning golden brown, and still just slightly underdone in the middle. I over-did a few batches, and they weren’t as good.

Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(from Martha Stewart Living, April 2010)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
2. Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, beat until combined. Mix in chocolate chips (I did this by hand).
3. Using a 2 1/4 inch ice cream scoop (about 3 tbsp), drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden around edges but soft in the middle, about 15 minutes. (That was too long for me…check after 13 minutes to be sure). Let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, and let cool completely.

Finished Dough

Finished Cookies