Junk Food Delight Cookies

Christmas Eve and all the feasting that comes with it (and Santa!) are almost here. Do you know what you’re putting out for the big guy? Sure, there’s the classic chocolate chip cookie, but what if the Santa you know prefers to experiment?

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Enter my junk food delight cookies. As the third place champions of this year’s Brooklyn Cookie Takedown, these are destined to please the bearded gift-giver in your life. Just make sure to have lots of milk (or craft beer) on hand.

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Junk Food Delight Cookies

Makes about 40-50 cookies

5 tablespoons butter

12 ounces Ghirardelli’s 60% cocoa baking bars

4 ounces Ghirardelli’s 70% cocoa baking bar

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup thin pretzel sticks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup peanut butter M&M’s

1 cup Reese’s peanut butter cups, chopped into small pieces (this is easier to do when they are frozen)

Maldon sea salt flakes, for topping

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Fill a small pot with about an inch of water and bring to a simmer. Place butter and cocoa bars in a small or medium bowl and place on top of pot. Stir occasionally, until butter and cocoa are melted together. Let cool slightly (but not completely) while you work on the following steps, continuing to stir every few minutes to make sure it is not solidifying.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.

Beat the sugar and eggs in a stand mixer on medium high speed for about 6 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate, and mix on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes.

Use a rubber spatula to fold the flour mix into the batter. Make sure it is evenly distributed. Add the pretzel sticks, peanut butter M&M’s, and Reese’s cups, and fold until well distributed within the batter.

Cover top of batter with plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 1.5 hours to harden (or else it will be too difficult to shape into cookies).

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using either a teaspoon and your hands or a cookie scooper (a cookie scooper will be much easier!), shape the dough into slightly smaller than ping pong ball sized mounds. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt flakes. Baked for 8-12 minutes, until tops looks just slightly dried and cracked, but much of the cookies still looks raw. Allow to cool completely.

Unlike most baked goods, these taste best once they have completely cooled, and once they have rested for a day. Just make sure to store these in an airtight container (at room temperature).

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Ice Cream Double Hitter

Once upon a time, many moons ago, on my 29th birthday, I won third place People’s Choice and Judges at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Takedown for my Lemon Raspberry Pie Ice Cream. Roughly twelve moons before then, after drawing inspiration from an amazing trip to Japan, I placed 4th in People’s Choice with my Green Tea Kit Kat Ice Cream. Both times, I swore up and down that I would post the recipes on my blog. But time came and went, I went on trips, got busy at work, started wedding planning, and even posted some other recipes. What can I say? Ice cream recipes are fussy—so many steps to spell out!

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People, there is nothing I can do about the fact that it is decidedly not ice cream weather at the moment. But a promise is a promise, so, without further ado, I bring you an ice cream recipe double-hitter: Green Tea Kit Kat Ice Cream AND Lemon Raspberry Pie Ice Cream.

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(Why post these recipes now, Alice? Well, the Brooklyn Cookie Takedown is just around the bend. I’m super excited and hope you are, too! You know what wasn’t exciting? The prospect of coming out of that event with three recipes to post on my blog. Better late than never…right?)

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Green Tea Kit Kat Ice Cream

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop

Makes 1 1/2 quarts

For the Ice Cream:

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups heavy cream

5 teaspoons matcha powder

6 egg yolks

For the Chocolate Fudge Ribbon:

1 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

3/4 unsweetened cocoa powder

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I like Ghirardelli’s.)

For the Kit Kats:

1 1/2 cups Green Tea Kit Kats, frozen and chopped into ¼ of an inch pieces (You can find these on Amazon.)

First, make the ice cream base. Heat up the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan while whisking occasionally.

Pour the cream and matcha powder in a large bowl and whisk together, then place a mesh strainer atop the bowl. Prepare an ice bath in an even larger bowl, and place the cream bowl and strainer in the ice bath.

In a separate large bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Once whisked, slowly whisk in the hot milk mixtures. Place the hot egg mixture back in the saucepan. Over medium heat, use a rubber spatula to constantly stir the mixture in the saucepan, until it has the consistency of custard. Strain the custard mixture into the matcha cream. Whisk together until the mixtures are combined and the ice bath has cooled the mixture. Chill in your fridge—your ice cream maker will tell you how long you must chill for.

Next, prepare the chocolate sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa powder. Whisk frequently, and when it begins to boil, remove from heat and stir in the bittersweet chocolate until melted. Place in fridge to chill completely.

Finally, bring it all together. Place your ice cream in the ice cream maker. When it is 5 minutes from being completed, pour in the chopped up Kit Kats, and let the ice cream process until they are evenly distributed. Layer the ice cream with the chocolate sauce in a large Tupperware. Place in freezer for at least a couple hours before serving.

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Lemon Raspberry Pie Ice Cream

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop

For the Ice Cream:

3/4 cup sugar

zest of 3 large lemons

1 cup whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

generous pinch of salt

5 egg yolks

For the Raspberry Sauce:

6 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed

1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons sugar

For the “Pie”:

1 1/2 cups graham crackers, shattered into small pieces (but not completely pulverized)

First, make the ice cream. Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until the zest has become very fine and incorporated in the sugar. Place the sugar and lemon mixture, milk, and 1/2 cup of the heavy cream in a medium pot. Warm the mixture, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture has warmed, cover the pot, remove from heat, and let infuse, undisturbed, for 1 hour.

Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl. Once the hour has passed, rewarm the milk and sugar mixture. Pour the mixture slowly into the egg yolks, whisking constantly.

Prepare an ice bath with a large bowl inside it, containing the remainder of the heavy cream. Place a fine sieve over the large bowl.

Pour the egg yolk and milk mixture back into the medium pot, and place over medium heat. Use a rubber spatula to stir constantly, and make sure to scrape along the bottom of the pan. Be careful of over-cooking. The mixture is ready when it has a custard-like consistency and coats the spatula.

Pour the mixture through the sieve and mix with the heavy cream. Discard the lemon zest and any cooked egg particles that are caught in the sieve. Keep mixing until the mixture has cooled. Place in an airtight container in the fridge and thoroughly chill, for at least 24 hours or per the instructions of your ice cream maker.

Next, make the raspberry sauce. Blend together all ingredients in a blender. Run through a fine sieve to remove seeds. Chill in fridge until ready to use.

Finally, bring it all together. Place your ice cream in the ice cream maker. When it is 5 minutes from being completed, pour in the graham crackers, and let the ice cream process until they are evenly distributed. Layer the ice cream with the raspberry sauce in a large Tupperware. Place in freezer for at least a couple hours before serving.

Now where is that to-do list, so I can mark this done and done?

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Fudgy Chocolate Toffee Walnut Cookies

Of the few activities I enjoy more than baking, one is sharing my kitchen creations with family and friends. So it should be no surprise that The Takedowns, whether they be cookie-, ice cream-, chili-, or otherwise themed, are amongst my most looked-forward-to events of the year. And what an extra special one this was. Not only did I get to spend time with loved ones, sample dozens of other home chef extraordinaires’ cookies, and share my chocolate toffee walnut cookies with all the attendees, I also won first place!

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These winning cookies are deeply chocolate, slightly smokey (from the walnuts–make sure you toast them!), and feature toffee bar bits and sea salt flakes. They are also that rare breed of cookie that taste better after they’ve had a few days to let the flavors meld together. So get to it, and make them soon for your holiday festivities. They’re sure to be a crowd pleaser.

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Chocolate Toffee Walnut Cookies

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes about 30-40 cookies

5 tablespoons butter

12 ounces Ghirardelli’s 60% cocoa baking bars

4 ounces Ghirardelli’s 70% cocoa baking bar

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

5 1.4 ounce Heath bars, chopped to about chocolate chip size

1 cup walnuts, chopped, and toasted (the toasting is critical!)

Maldon sea salt flakes, for topping

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Fill a small pot with about an inch of water and bring to a simmer. Place butter and cocoa bars in a small or medium bowl and place on top of pot. Stir occasionally, until butter and cocoa are melted together. Let cool slightly (but not completely) while you work on the following steps, continuing to stir every few minutes to make sure it is not solidifying.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.

Beat the sugar and eggs in a stand mixer on medium high speed for about 6 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate, and mix on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes.

Use a rubber spatula to fold the flour mix into the batter. Make sure it is evenly distributed. Add the Heath bits and walnuts (make sure they are well toasted!) and fold until well distributed within the batter.

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Cover top of batter with plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 1 hour and 15 minutes to harden (or else it will be too difficult to shape into cookies).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using either a teaspoon and your hands or a cookie scooper, shape the dough into slightly smaller than ping pong ball sized mounds. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt flakes. Baked for 8-12 minutes, until tops looks just slightly dried and cracked, but much of the cookies still looks raw. Allow to cool completely.

Unlike most baked goods, these taste best once they have completely cooled, and once they have rested for a day or two–somehow all the complex flavors come together while the cookie retains a deep fudgy-ness. Just make sure to store these in an airtight container (at room temperature).

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Brooklyn Ice Cream Takedown 2015: Red Velvet Cheesecake Ice Cream

There are few things in this world greater than a weekend of friends, park time, ice cream, and sweet victory! And there are many things harder than writing a blog post with no current urge to write. But knowing I have no good reason for my writer’s block doesn’t make it any less insurmountable. Perhaps it is this stifling humidity?

In any case, I am thrilled to say that my red velvet cheesecake ice cream was awarded third place in this past weekend’s Brooklyn Ice Cream Takedown. And even more thrilled that I got to spend some quality time with my ice cream scooping and transporting BFFs.

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But enough about me, let’s talk ice cream. This ice cream is super tangy (from all the sour cream) and refreshing (from the lemon zest), warm (not in a temperature way but in a spice way, from the cinnamon), and rich (from all the cake chunks). There’s really not much else to say than that it comes together like a breeze and you should be making it right now.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Scoop

Red Velvet Cheesecake Ice Cream

Makes about 2 pints

1 slice of red velvet cake

2/3 cup sugar

1 pinch of salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup half and half

1 cup sour cream

8 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into small chunks
Ice Cream Masters

Prepare the red velvet cake by removing the frosting. Cut cake into small cubes, place in a freezer bag, and allow to freeze for one day.

Place all ingredients other than red velvet chunks in a food processor and blend well, until all ingredients are incorporated.

Process the ice cream batter per your ice cream maker’s instructions. When moving the ice cream from the ice cream maker into its freezer container, use a rubber spatula to create a one inch high layer, stud with the frozen red velvet cake chunks, and then repeat, so that all of the red velvet chunks have been placed in the ice cream. Serve on its own–it has all it needs in one delightful package!

Award Time