Pastries in Paradise

Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category

Spumoni Cookies

DSC_0323Like many, I feel completely exhausted after the holidays. I love the winter holiday season but it truly does know how to wipe a person out. I feel like ever since Halloween in October it has been non-stop craziness preparing for whatever festivity comes next. If the typical holidays are not enough, the addition of my daughter now fills January with two more celebrations I never had to plan for before. January 17th is my daughter’s name day and January 24th is her birthday. For those that do not know, a name day is a Greek tradition of celebrating the name of the Christian saint you are named after on that saint’s feast day. So now that all of those celebrations have since passed, I finally feel some ease until Easter but it has left me extremely fatigued. It is so bad I hardly feel like doing anything each day, but of course we all know that is not possible with a 2 year old and 100 pounds of med school homework.

DSC_0318Since my energy has been sapped as of late it has really took its toll on my baking hobby. When I do manage to summon enough energy to cook outside of making breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my family it needs to be something that isn’t too strenuous. I always used to be against taking baking shortcuts but now that I am a mom and full-time student, any shortcut I can find that still tastes good is acceptable. I even recall as a teen trashing my grandfather’s shortcut cookie recipe that he made with a boxed cake mix. After they were made he had me try one. They were of course delicious and it was then he told me something that has stuck to this day. He said, “As long as you know you can make it from scratch and have it taste good, it doesn’t hurt to take a shortcut every once and awhile.” This has been my motto as of late. I know I can make great cookies from scratch and have done so since I was old enough to see over the kitchen counter, so it doesn’t hurt to take a shortcut when I need one. This recipe is one of those shortcuts.

DSC_0322The reason this recipe is considered a short cut is because it uses store bought sugar cookie dough. If you are completely against the idea of anything store bought, you can make your own batch of sugar cookie dough as I have also done when I have more time and energy, just be sure your sugar cookie recipe produces about 2 pounds of dough. I prefer to take the shortcut method with these cookies though because they are rather involved compared to others already and making your own sugar cookie dough will make the process that much longer. I know anyone with a busy lifestyle will surely appreciate this shortcut method that not only takes less time but is also a special, elegant looking cookie.

DSC_0315What makes these cookies so impressive are the three different layers of color and flavor. This is the spumoni influence on the cookie. Spumoni originates in Italy and is traditionally found as ice cream. Spumoni is relative to Neapolitan, with three flavors, traditionally being chocolate, pistachio, and cherry. I do not care for pistachios so I altered the traditional make-up and used walnuts instead. You can certainly swap out an equal amount of pistachios for the walnuts in this recipe. Even though Spumoni has pretty much disappeared in Italy, it is still much loved in the U.S. with good reason. Give them a try and have a taste of forgotten Italy.

Note: These cookies use three separate doughs merged into one to make the tri-colored appearance. I roll the dough into ropes, place them alongside each other, and roll flat with a rolling pin to merge the dough. You can also roll out each dough ball into equal length and thickness then stack the dough on top of each other and slice with a sharp knife to get a similar effect. Whichever method you choose, be sure to chill the dough slightly to make it easier to get uniform cookies. This recipe produces approximately 3 dozen cookies.

 

Spumoni Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 (16 oz.) tubes Refrigerated Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Dough
  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 12 Maraschino Cherries; drained, stemmed, & chopped fine
  • ¼ cup Walnuts; toasted & chopped fine
  • ¼ cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips; melted & slightly cooled
  • Red & Green Food Coloring

 Formula:

  1. Remove cookie dough from refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature, approximately 1 hour. Place both tubes of cookie dough into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add ¾ cup of flour and mix on low until combined. Separate dough into three equal portions and place one portion back into the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the remaining ¼ cup of flour to the dough portion in the mixer bowl. Mix until just incorporated. Add 5 drops of red food coloring and chopped cherries to the dough. Mix until well combined. Shape the dough into a ball and set aside.
  2. Wipe out the same mixing bowl and place back on the stand mixer. Add the second portion of dough to the mixer bowl. Add 5 drops of green food coloring and the chopped walnuts. Mix until well combined. Shape dough into a ball and set aside.
  3. Wipe out the same mixing bowl one last time and place back on the stand mixer. Add the final portion of dough to the mixer bowl. Add the melted chocolate to the dough and mix until well combined. Shape dough into ball. Wrap all three dough portions in plastic wrap and refrigerate until slightly firm, approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Divide each chilled dough portion in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough half into a 12 inch rope. Place 1 rope of each color side by side on the floured surface and gently press together. Refrigerate ropes until slightly firm, approximately 10 minutes. Remove chilled ropes from refrigerator and on a floured surface, use a rolling pin to flatten the cookies and merge the dough ropes together. Once rolled, use a knife to cut 1 inch wide cookies. Place cookies on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Repeat until all dough is used and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Bake chilled cookies until set but not browned, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Be sure to rotate baking sheets halfway through cooking time for even baking. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for approximately 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored for approximately 1 week.

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: DONNA BARDOCZ
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2015

Melomakarona

DSC_0242Winter has officially set in and with the bitter cold comes a desire to stay bundled up in bed under the warm covers all day. Having a daughter that is about to turn two in just a few weeks prevents me from exercising such a dream but it does still keep me indoors. Although Florida is not as cold as the rest of the country, having lows in the upper 30’s and highs in the mid 50’s is extremely chilly for us with thinned blood. I was born and raised in Iowa so I was used to the negative temperatures this time of year, but surely after years of being a Floridian my blood has quickly thinned like the crushed ice pellets of a slushy on a hot summer day.

Being that I am stuck inside it leaves me one of only a few options: bake, write, or watch endless episodes of Sofia the First with my daughter. I have elected to write (and still have endless episodes of Sofia the First playing in the background). The recipe I present to you today is another cookie I baked for Christmas that I hadn’t the time to get posted prior to Christmas. Melomakarona (Greek Honey Cookies) are yet another traditional Greek Christmas sweet. I will warn you these little gems are extremely popular because they are extremely addictive. Melomakarona happen to be my favorite Greek cookie I have tried so far. Unfortunately with such fine gems there will always be a catch and these are no exception. Melomakarona tend to be a little more time consuming than other sweets I tend to post but they are ever so worth it. I guarantee once you take a bite of this moist and flavorful cookie soaked in sweet honey syrup you will surely be satisfied with your work.

DSC_0245Now that I dropped the bit of bad news regarding these cookies I can overcome any negativity with a positive. Not only do these cookies scent the house with a wonderful aroma, they are the most perfect cookie to prepare during the busy holiday season. I know I just stated they are more time consuming than other cookies so you are certainly wondering how I can then say they are perfect for the busiest and most stressful time of the year. I assure you I am not crazy. The reason I say they are perfect is because these cookies, although time consuming, can be made weeks in advance and still remain soft and fresh as the day they were made. In fact, it is best that they are made a bit in advance so that the honey syrup has enough time to penetrate the cookie and regain a bit of structure. If you try to serve these cookies right after they take a bath in the honey syrup they will crumble and dissolve into a mess in your hands the second you take a bite (although it will be a finger-licking, delicious mess).

If you would like to be as authentic as possible with the Melomakarona, you will want to purchase Greek honey. I won’t lie this can be rather hard to find and a bit pricey so check out your local International market or shop for it online. You may certainly substitute regular honey but keep in mind the flavor will not be the same. This is due to the fact that Greek honey is extremely thick and made from bees that harvest most of their pollen from the thyme plant, imparting a specific flavor unique to Greek honey. For the final authentic touch, top each cookie with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts and a pinch of cinnamon and clove right after they are removed from the honey bath. The cookies displayed in the photos however only have walnuts and cinnamon added since I skipped on the clove as my daughter finds the flavor too harsh if it is not baked into the product. Whichever way you choose to prepare these cookies, each will be guaranteed heaven and a joy to all on the holidays (or any day for that matter).

Note: Cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for about 2 weeks. You will have a good remainder of honey syrup after soaking the cookies. I usually use the delicious syrup to top pancakes and toast but if you would not like leftovers you may cut the ingredients for the honey syrup in half to create a smaller yield.

DSC_0248Melomakarona

Syrup Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Water
  • 36 oz. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 18 oz. Greek Honey

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 5.5 oz. Thin Semolina
  • 18 oz. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ tbsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Clove
  • 3 tbsp. Brandy or Cognac
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 3.5 oz. Granulated Sugar
  • 3.5 oz. Orange Juice
  • ½ tbsp. Baking Soda
  • 3.5 oz. Water
  • 4.5 oz. Olive Oil
  • 4.5 oz. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 oz. Greek Honey
  • Zest of 1 Orange

Garnish Ingredients:

  • 7 oz. Walnuts; toasted & chopped fine
  • Powdered Cinnamon
  • Powdered Clove (optional)

 

Formula:

  1. To prepare the honey syrup: In a large saucepan add all of the syrup ingredients except for the honey. Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil until the sugar has dissolved, about 3 to 5 minutes (mixture will foam so pay close attention). Remove from heat and add in the honey. Stir to combine then set syrup aside to cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the cookie dough by adding the semolina, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove to a large bowl. Stir the mixture with a whisk to evenly distribute the spices. In another large bowl, add the brandy, vanilla, and granulated sugar. Measure out the orange juice into a large measuring cup. Hold the measuring cup over the large bowl with the brandy mixture. Add the baking soda to the orange juice, causing it to foam up and possibly over the rim of the measuring cup (depends how large the measuring cup is). After the orange juice mixture has finished foaming pour it into the bowl with the brandy mixture and whisk vigorously for 10 t0 20 seconds (if the orange juice mixture overflows the measuring cup while it is reacting, begin whisking the second it overflows into the bowl and continue to whisk until you pour all of the orange juice mixture into the bowl of the brandy mixture). Add the water, oils, honey, and orange zest and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the flour mixture into the brandy/orange juice mixture. Knead the dough lightly by hand until the ingredients are just combined and the dough feels smooth and soft. Be sure you do not overwork the dough or add any extra flour because the cookies will become tough. The dough will feel oily and is normal.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. To shape the Melomakarona, pinch a piece of dough about the size of a walnut and shape into a ball. Once in a ball use your palms to shape the dough ball into an oblong egg shape. Place the shaped cookie on the prepared baking sheet. Press down lightly with the tines of a fork. Continue shaping the rest of the dough. Bake cookies until they are lightly brown and cooked through, approximately 20 minutes.
  5. When the Melomakarona are removed from the oven, let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 1 minute so they are easier to pick up. Working in batches, place the cookies into the cooled syrup. Flip the cookies while in the syrup with a slotted spoon for about 20 seconds (longer if you want a more syrupy cookie). Remove the soaked cookies with the slotted spoon and place on a serving platter. Sprinkle them immediately with the chopped walnuts, cinnamon, and clove (if using).

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2015

Kourabiedes

DSC_0172Every year in the past I have provided readers several non-traditional holiday cookie recipes that are great to offer on holiday dessert tables or pass at holiday related functions. These non-traditional cookies help bring variety to the plethora of sugar cookies typically found decorating dinner tables or being passed at holiday affairs. I am not in any way discounting a sugar cookies worthiness of being served during the holidays as I too love them and look forward to my mother’s every year. However, I do like to try new things and venture outside of the typical so it is always nice to have something new alongside of a childhood favorite.

With that said, I slacked this year and only brought readers one non-traditional offering and it wasn’t even a cookie, it was the Greek jam tart Pasta Flora. I did make several cookies during the holidays that most families would not consider part of the norm so I would like to share these with you. Although you will not have the time to make them for any holiday this year as they have all since passed, perhaps you may try them now and decide if you would like to offer them next year at your holiday events.

DSC_0179The cookie for this entry that I am anxious to share is a classic Christmas dessert staple for Greeks and is known by the name Kourabiedes. These festive, soft delights are butter cookies drenched in the sweetness of confectioners’ sugar (also known as powdered sugar or icing sugar). My daughter devoured so many to the point I began to doubt the study that confirmed sugar does not make kids hyper. Along with attracting kids like a magnet, they are very easy to prepare and will add the perfect holiday theme to any table with their snowy appearance.

Kourabiedes

(Greek Christmas Butter Cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 9 oz. Butter; room temperature
  • 3.5 oz. Confectioners’ Sugar; plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 tbsp. Ouzo or Brandy
  • 4 oz. Sliced Almonds; toasted
  • 16 oz. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. Baking Powder

 

Formula:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
  2. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together until it becomes light and creamy. Add the vanilla and ouzo/brandy, mixing until just incorporated. Add the toasted almonds and again mix until just incorporated.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and the baking powder. Do not skip this step as it is detrimental to the final texture of the cookies. Slowly add the sifted flour mixture to the creamed butter in 3 additions. Mix together until the dough is combined, soft, and easy to work with. If the dough appears too sticky and hard to work with, add up to no more than 2 ounces of sifted flour until the desired texture is achieved.
  4. To form the Kourabiedes, roll 1 to 2 tbsp. of dough into a ball between your palms and place on the prepared baking sheet. In the middle of the cookie dough ball, push down with your finger to form a small dimple in the surface. Repeat with the remaining dough, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie on the baking sheet. Bake cookies for about 20 minutes or until they take on a very light golden hue. Do not overcook them as they should not look golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Do not try to remove them from the sheet immediately as the cookies will break if they are still warm and they will not be thoroughly cooked.
  5. Once the cookies have cooled, remove them from the baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Continue forming Kourabiedes as in step 4 until all the dough has been used. Once all the cookies have cooled completely, place a few cups of confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Working in batches, roll the cookies in the sugar so that the sugar coats on all sides. Before serving, place the cookies on a platter and sift a generous amount of confectioners’ sugar over the cookies.

 

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2015

 

Peanut Butter and Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

DSC_0131I recently felt like making cookies and wanted to try something different. At the same time I did have some requirements of what I desired from the cookie I was about to make. I wanted it to be simple, soft, and chocolate. With that in mind I stumbled on a few potentials but everything seemed too involved for my taste since I had family in town and wanted something that could be made up quick. Just as I was about to give up and not make anything this week I stumbled on something that peaked my interest…Peanut Butter & Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies. I knew peanut butter and chocolate go together perfectly but the banana intrigued me enough to force me to try it, even though it was a bit more involved of a recipe than I had planned to tackle on. DSC_0140Before I make a recipe I usually do some research and compare/contrast other recipes so that I can create the best product myself. What I found in my research was that many recipes only used mashed bananas to add the banana flavor or they added mashed banana and some banana extract to boost the flavor since many complained banana alone did not provide enough banana flavor to shine through the dominant chocolate and peanut butter flavors. One recipe took a different approach and used banana and dried banana chips. I liked this idea better than the extract option and chose to use banana and banana chips. The banana chips were a bit overwhelming the first time around but did impart banana flavor…almost too much to the point it stole the show against the chocolate and peanut butter, something I didn’t want. I wanted flavor harmony. So back to the drawing board for one more batch. This time, I toned down the banana chips and I had it perfect. The lower amount of chips provided just the right flavor and crunch without being too showy. DSC_0135To amp up the peanut butter flavor, I made sure to use crunchy peanut butter as opposed to creamy. This not only added more crunch to every bite but packed little bursts of peanut flavor. It also helped with the texture of the cookie. It kept it firm enough to hold everything together but not so firm that the cookies lost the softness I initially sought after. However, if all you have on hand is creamy peanut butter you can use that too but the texture may turn out different. DSC_0132All in all I really enjoyed these cookies and my daughter enjoyed helping me make them. They are definitely worth trying since everyone visiting had one or a few and now, sadly, they are a thing of the past. Note: Formula yields about 2 dozen cookies. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days.

Peanut Butter & Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter; softened
  • 2 oz. Cream Cheese; softened
  • ½ cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • ½ cup Granulated Sugar
  • ½ cup Chunky Peanut Butter
  • 1 Ripe Banana; mashed
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • ¼ cup Dried Banana Chips; chopped

Formula:

  1. Adjust oven rack to upper and lower middle positions and preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside (Do not leave them on top of the preheating oven). Combine the flour and the baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter, banana, egg, and vanilla, mixing until just incorporated. Reduce the speed to low, and add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir the chocolate chips and banana chips in by hand until evenly distributed but do not overmix.
  3. Take sections of dough and roll into 1½ inch size balls. Place each dough ball on the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart from each other. Use a large fork to gently press a crisscross pattern into the top of each dough ball. This will slightly flatten the dough balls. Bake the cookies until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through the baking time. When cookies are done baking, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets. After 5 minutes, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before storing. Repeat with remaining dough as necessary.

SPECIAL THANKS TO: PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2014

Alfajores

20140328_111907This past week my family celebrated Greek Independence Day and the amount of national pride and love for culture set me off to find a cultural piece to post on. You may wonder why I didn’t choose a Greek dish and I admit I did contemplate doing so but then again that would be exposing family heirloom recipes and I thought the better of it out of respect. So I ended up stumbling on a little gem out of Argentina. Like the popularity of the Oreo in America, Alfajores are practically Argentina’s national cookie. They have been a part of Argentinian culture since the 19th century and to this day Argentina remains the world’s largest consumer of Alfajores as they are a common snack for kids and adults alike.

20140330_134354In doing my research I was quick to find the millions of variations to this cookie. Variations span all across the Latin American countries as well as overseas in Spain (although the Spanish version is of little resemblance to this recipe to the point you want to question they are at all related). The most common type of Alfajores start with two soft cookies and are sandwiched with a decadent dollop of dulce de leche (a Latin American style caramel). Just the dulce de leche alone is enough reason why this is probably the chosen common variation. I chose to prepare this version and also a version where the cookie is finished off by rolling in toasted coconut. Other common alternatives include dusting the cookie sandwich with confectioners’ sugar, coating in dark or white chocolate, or going as far as to ditch the dulce de leche for jam or mousse. I personally prefer the dulce de leche and that is why you will find it here.

20140330_134539Like the Oreo has its milk, the Alfajor is often paired with morning coffee or tea but why limit them to mornings when they make a great afternoon snack or dessert after dinner. One bite and you will quickly understand why they are so popular. Don’t be alarmed by the high amount of cornstarch in this recipe. It is necessary for the cookie to have its signature, slightly cakey texture. In fact, the traditional dulce de leche recipe for Alfajores has been on the back of cornstarch boxes in Argentina for years. If you decide to try the Alfajores with coconut, make sure to toast the coconut until it starts to turn golden brown. This brings out its nutty flavor. You can certainly fill the cookies in this recipe with anything you have on hand but if you want the traditional Argentinian style make sure you use dulce de leche. You won’t regret it I swear. You can find dulce de leche in the baking aisle or Ethnic aisle of most supermarkets. This recipe will yield you approximately 1 ½ dozen cookies. The cookies can be stored at room temperature for 3 days. Enjoy :)

20140330_134124Alfajores

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 14 tbsp. (1 ¾ sticks) Unsalted Butter; softened
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups Dulce de Leche
  • 1 cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut; toasted

Formula:

  1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions before pre-heating the oven to 375°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or grease pans with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until just combined. Add the eggs and mix until well incorporated. Add the flour mixture and continue to beat until combined. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until slightly firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Roll tablespoon amounts of dough into round balls. Place the dough balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies until the edges begin to turn golden, about 12 minutes. Be sure to rotate sheets halfway through the baking time so they cook evenly. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
  4. Spread 1 tablespoon of dulce de leche on the bottom half of each cookie. Top with the remaining cookies to form a sandwich and press down gently to push some of the dulce de leche to the cookie edges. Roll the sides of the cookie in the toasted coconut, pressing gently to adhere. Serve.

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM ADRIANA MILNER

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2014

Dreamy Coconut Cookie Cups

20140128_162242Today was a rather dreary day and that made it perfect for staying in and baking. After a relatively busy day yesterday full of appointments revolving around my little one and grocery shopping, I was ready for a mellow day. After making breakfast for my little family I took on a recipe called Dream Bars. I decided to reinvent it into a more convenient, portable treat.

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Sure they may not seem like much but they sure do taste delicious. Surprisingly, despite how simplistic they may appear, these little guys can cause some problems. First off, most of the traditional Dream Bar recipes out there were just too sweet, even for my very forgiving sweet tooth. To overcome this, I wanted to overcome the sweetness with nuts. By toasting the nuts until crunchy, it cut through even the toughest of residual sweetness.

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Perhaps my favorite part of this treat is the coconut topping. Of course my favorite things always end up being the most problematic… go figure!!! Shredded coconut on its own would just dry out, burn, and become gross. To keep the shredded coconut moist and delicious I soaked it in cream of coconut, which not only kept it moist but added richness and the perfect concentration of sugar that results in a caramelized topping without being overly sweet.

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To further balance out the sweetness it is key to dial back the sugar in not only the topping but also the crust. By making the crust thicker and resemble a shortbread cookie instead of the typical thin, weak base, the nuttiness is more prevalent and keeps the sugary topping at bay. Speaking of sugar, I’m sure Domino Sugar would be hating on me for discouraging the over usage of its product since back in the day it was the bar version of this recipe that was used as a marketing tool to sell their sugar to housewives. Sorry Domino, please forgive me :)

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I will admit this isn’t my strongest post, but it was never meant to be. It was meant to be an experiment, a way to refresh a recipe created in the Great Depression into something modern for our crazy, hectic world we now reside. It is not glamorous or gourmet. It is homey, practical, and satisfying. Probably why it has stuck around for so many years and had so many back-of-the-box variations. If it made some of the harshest moments of American history a bit more dreamy, than it is okay in my book!!!

Note: Formula yields 18 cookie cups. Cookie cups can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 5 days.

Dreamy Cookie Cups

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ cup Dark Brown Sugar; packed
  • ½ cup Pecans
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 10 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; cut into pieces & chilled

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups Shredded Coconut
  • 1 cup Cream of Coconut
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¾ cup Dark Brown Sugar; packed
  • 2 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla-Nut Extract
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup Pecans; toasted & chopped

Formula:

  1. Heat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. To make the crust, process flour, sugar, pecans, and salt in a food processor until pecans are coarsely ground. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture firmly into the bottoms of each muffin tin. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the topping. Combine the shredded coconut and cream of coconut in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Stir in the pecans, then spread over the cooled crusts, dividing evenly among each cookie cup. Dollop heaping tablespoons of the coconut mixture over the filling and spread into as even a layer as possible.
  4. Bake the cookie cups until deep golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY  & STAGING

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM MARIA DEL MAR SACASA

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2014

Better Than Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ever since I was a kid my go to recipe for chocolate chip cookies was the back of a Nestle Toll House Morsels bag. The recipe is simple and with ingredients most families have on hand. It is what made the Toll House recipe so famous since its debut back in 1939. Yes it has been around that long. But with this type of age there is sure to be followers set out to replace its fame with their own.

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Sure I still love the moist cake-like texture and buttery aftertaste of the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie but my adult taste buds sought for more. But is there really more out there for my taste buds to find??? And if there is how hard would it be to obtain??? These questions were all answered with this perfect recipe. This is surely my new favorite… at least for the time being. I kind of get around a lot when it comes to cookies. I’m sure at some point we will divorce like I did with Mr. Toll House but for now we are in it for the long haul. There shouldn’t be any hard feelings though because I have only stayed with two cookies my entire life, those being my mom’s recipe for Sugar Cookies that are made at Christmas and my kiddie bake sale favorite… the Peanut Blossom.

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You may wonder what made this recipe capture my heart for the time being. Truth is, at first even I was highly skeptical. But it turns out the little extra effort goes a long way with chocolate chip cookies. Jacques Torres once stated that the best chocolate chip cookie is based on a dough that was allowed to rest for 24 hours. I honestly can’t wait that long. I can barely wait for them to be cool enough to touch let alone 24 hours before even being baked. This doesn’t mean I couldn’t apply the same principle but on a bit smaller time scale. By toning down Torres’ wait time but still implementing his theory a bit I was able to manifest a chocolate chip cookie that had a moist and chewy inside and crispy, golden edges.

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Now I forgot to mention there was always a beef I had with the Toll House recipe and as a result I always left out this ingredient as a kid because I thought it took away from the star of the show, the chocolate. This ingredient was the nuts. As an adult I can appreciate the complexity nuts bring to the cookie but I still don’t like them in my chocolate chip cookie because lets face it, nuts are not discreet and when you expect to bite into a gooey bit of warm chocolate and are abruptly hit with a crunch it just throws off my moment of chocolate ecstasy. So I tried to think of a way to bring the flavor of the nuts into the cookie without the big hunks of crunch that will distract me. That is when I stumbled on my lone vial of Vanilla-Nut extract I used all but once and was left forgotten in the back of the pantry. This was clearly the answer to my lifelong dilemma.

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If that wasn’t enough perfection I made sure to brown the butter rather than just cream it like Toll House. This resulted in not only added chewiness but also a rich toffee flavor that balanced the overall sweetness. With the oven set higher than normal and only one tray in at a time, the cookies cooked more evenly and had golden crispy edges with tender centers that even my inner kid couldn’t deny.

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Note: If possible, do not use a non-stick skillet to brown the butter as it makes it very hard to judge when the butter is actually browned and you can easily burn it if not careful. Also be sure not to use old, hardened brown sugar because it will have a very negative effect on the texture of the cookies, essentially making them extremely dry. I prefer Ghiradelli chocolate chips but any brand will work. If you do not have dark brown sugar on hand you can substitute light brown sugar but keep in mind the toffee flavor will not be as pronounced.

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Better Than Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Ingredients:

  • 8.75 ounces (1 ¾ cups) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • 14 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, divided
  • 3.5 ounces (½ cup) Granulated Sugar
  • 5.25 ounces (¾ cup) Dark Brown Sugar; packed (if using measuring cup)
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla-Nut Extract
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 ¼ cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Formula:

  1. Heat oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour and baking soda together in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat 10 tbsp. of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Continue to cook, swirling the pan constantly or using a rubber spatula to stir until the butter is dark golden brown and gives off a nutty aroma, about 1 to 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the browned butter with a rubber spatula to a large heatproof bowl. Add in the remaining 4 tbsp. of butter and allow to melt completely.
  4. Add the granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, salt, and vanilla-nut extract to the bowl of butter and whisk until incorporated. Add the egg and egg yolk and whisk until smooth and no sugar lumps remain. Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes and then whisk again for about 30 seconds. Repeat this process 2 more times until the mixture becomes thick, smooth, and glossy. Stir in the flour mixture until combined. Add in the chocolate chips and stir to evenly distribute chocolate and ensure no pockets of flour remain.
  5. Use a cookie scoop or divide the dough into 16 portions of approximately 3 tbsp. each. Arrange each ball of cookie dough on the prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until the cookies become golden brown and puffy. Edges should be golden and set but the centers remain soft, approximately 10 to 14 minutes. Be sure to rotate the pan halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining cookies. Yields approximately 16 cookies.

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SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY  & STAGING

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM CHARLES KELSEY

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2014

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