Napoleon’s Hat Cookies

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Happy Tuesday! It’s been a while since my last post, but on a dreary gray day like this I figure some people might need a sweet treat. I love anything and everything almond, so when my mom picked up a couple Napoleon’s Hat cookies from a bakery for us to try, I knew I just had to make them at home. These cookies are buttery, soft, with an almond marzipan filling bursting with almond flavor. Delicious. I adapted this recipe from Scandinavian Today based on the ingredients I had, and they turned out great!

Anyway, my adaptations included using 7oz almond paste instead of the 6oz marzipan called for in the recipe, since it comes in a 7oz tube. I also added a little almond extract to the cookie dough to get a little extra almond flavor, since you can never have enough. The cookies turned out soft and flavorful, and filling was deliciously chewy, and the chocolate added the perfect final touch. Unfortunately, I can’t remember how many cookies they made, but my guess is around 20. Maybe I should count next time. Here’s the recipe!

Napoleon’s Hat Cookies

Adapted from Scandinavian Today

Ingredients

Cookies:

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 1/2 oz (7 tbsp) unsalted butter

2/3 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp almond extract

1 egg yolk

1 tbsp ice water

Filling:

7 oz almond paste

3 oz granulated sugar

1 egg white

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, or 6oz chopped chocolate

Directions

To make the cookie dough, cut the butter into the flour until soft crumbs form. Add the powdered sugar, almond extract, egg yolk, and ice water. Mix until just combined. Form a disk with the dough, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for half an hour.

To make the filling, cream together the almond paste, sugar, and egg white until a smooth paste forms.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Take the chilled dough out of the refrigerator and roll to a 1/4 inch thickness. Use a glass or cookie cutter about 3 inches in diameter and cut circles. Place on a baking sheet. Scoop ball of the filling, 2 tsp each, into the center of each cut circle. Lifting the circle of dough with the filling in the middle, gently pinch together three corners of each cookie, making the triangular hat shape.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just barely golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Melt the chocolate in a shallow dish, then dip the bottom of each cookie in chocolate. Place on wax paper to cool and allow the chocolate to harden. Enjoy!

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

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It’s almost spring! Well, at least in California it certainly looks like it. Sunny skies, warm days… Yup, we have it good here in the Golden State. However, after a recent trip to Seattle, where the skies are a little cloudier, and there’s a little more rain, I decided to make a nice warm soup as part of dinner. The ingredient list is short, and the instructions are simple, but the result is a delicious, comforting soup.

I kind of made up this recipe based on how I usually make soups, and what ingredients I wanted. I used full-fat soymilk to add a little creaminess, and since that’s what we keep around the house, but you could probably use cow milk or almond milk of a low or reduced-fat variety. This was a quick soup to pull together, and with the help of my immersion blender, was blended to the perfect texture in no time! You can blend this soup to smooth creaminess, or leave with some texture, as I did. Either way, it’s delicious. Here’s the recipe!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients

1 tsp olive oil

1/2 an onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)

1 head broccoli, cut into florets

1 quart vegetable stock

1 cup soymilk

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and broccoli, and saute until the onions are translucent and the broccoli has taken on a bright green hue. Add the vegetable stock and raise heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the broccoli is tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Add the soymilk and blend with an immersion blender until the desired texture is achieved. Alternatively, you can do this in batches in a blender, but then you have to wait for it to cool a little bit. Once the soup is your desired texture, stir in the cheddar cheese. The heat of the soup should melt the cheese, but if you had to cool the soup to blend it in batches, you can always turn on the heat for a bit. Ladle the soup into bowls. Enjoy!

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Pair it with a fresh salad and make it a meal!

Rosemary Bread

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Happy February! This is my first free weekend in a month, since I’ve been traveling around interviewing at physical therapy schools and such, and I’m ready to relax. A couple weeks ago I was struck with inspiration to make a fragrant rosemary bread, since we have rosemary growing in the backyard. A quick google search brought up this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, and I made a few modifications, but it’s mostly the same. I switched the melted butter for olive oil, and I chopped up the rosemary and soaked it in the olive oil for a little bit before adding a bit to the dough, as well as spreading it over the loaves before baking.

This bread has a tender, moist crumb, a nice crispy crust, and the delicious fragrance and flavor of rosemary. I made it for a potluck dinner, but my parents loved it and requested it more, so I made this twice within a week. It’s a very easy bread to pull together, especially with my wonderful KitchenAid stand mixer, with a pretty short ingredient list. It does require two one-hour risings, but during that time you can get a quick workout in, go to the library, do some studying, whatever it is you need to do. This bread probably takes about three hours start to finish, so it’s an afternoon project, but if you have the time, it’s worth it!

Rosemary Bread

Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Café

Makes 2 round loaves (about 12 slices each)

Ingredients

1 tbsp instant yeast

1 tbsp granulated sugar

3 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 ½ cups warm water (110-115˚F)

3-4 tbsp fresh rosemary (5-6 sprigs), chopped and divided

1 ½ tsp salt

3 ½ – 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tbsp olive oil

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the yeast, sugar, 1 tbsp olive oil, and warm water. Let stand for a few minutes, until foamy. Add in 2 tbsp of the rosemary, salt, and 2 cups flour, then mix with a dough hook. Add flour in ½ cup increments until a soft dough forms. The dough should be a little sticky to the touch but still hold its shape. Knead using a dough hook for about 5-6 minutes. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Put the remainder of the rosemary in the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and allow to infuse the olive oil with flavor while the dough rises.

Once the dough has doubled, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and divide into two halves. Form each half into an oval loaf, and place on baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with extra rosemary if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled again, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing. Enjoy!

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Sugar Cookies with Simple Icing

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Happy New Year everyone! I decided that I should get in at least one blog post in the new year, so here we are. This is my first winter without a winter break, since I’m not a student for the year, which has been a little sad. At least work has been pretty quiet the last couple weeks. But, my sister is still in college, so she’s been home for the last three weeks, and we’ve had lots of fun making and decorating gingerbread cookies and sugar cookies! This is my mom’s favorite recipe for sugar cookies. I have no idea where it came from, since it’s just handwritten on an index card she has filed away, but it’s the recipe we’ve been using for years, and I’m a fan of it.

These cookies are sweet, as sugar cookies should be, and pretty delicious by themselves. However, half the fun is decorating them! Plus adding a little sugar can only improve the flavor, right? Right. We didn’t do any fancy royal icing, so it’s a little more delicate, but once you ice the cookies, if you let them dry for a few hours, you can stack them with wax paper with little damage. The cookies have a light, delicate crumb, and I baked them for a little less time than recommended, to keep them nice and soft, while still sturdy enough to hold icing. With a little time and patience, these can be a fun family (or in my case, sibling) project, and they make great holiday giveaways! Get creative and have fun with your cookies, they’ll still taste great no matter how they look! Also if you really mess up, you can just eat it and no one will be the wiser… Not that we’ve done that or anything. Anyway, here’s our family holiday recipe.

Sugar Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cream of tartar

3 cups all-purpose flour

Icing

2 cups powdered sugar

2-3 tbsp milk, or to desired consistency

1 tsp vanilla extract

Few drops food coloring of choice

Directions

To make the cookies, cream together the butter and sugar by hand or with a mixer, until a smooth paste forms. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Whip in the baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar, then stir in the flour until just combined. The dough will be pretty dry and crumbly, I often have to mash it together with my hands at the end. Divide the dough into two parts, form each into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight.

When ready to roll out the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a floured surface (we use cutting boards), roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters of your choice, or just round glasses will work if you don’t have cookie cutters. Once you’ve finished with the sheet of dough, press the scraps together gently and roll out again, trying to handle the dough as little as possible. Continue to cut cookies and roll out the scraps until you’ve exhausted all the dough. Transfer cut cookies to the prepared baking sheets and bake for 6-7 minutes, until puffy, but before they begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. It is important that the cookies are completely cool before decorating, otherwise they will heat up the icing and make it run everywhere.

While the cookies are cooling, make the frosting. Stir together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla, until the desired consistency is reached. If you want to add food coloring, add a couple drops at a time, until the desired color is reached. Fill a ziploc bag (I use the cup method) and cut a tiny (like 1-2 mm tiny) hole in one corner of the bag (you can always cut it bigger, but it can’t be cut smaller, so start small). Decorate the cookies as you wish. Allow the icing to set for a few hours before stacking and storing them. Enjoy!

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Homemade Boba (Pearl Milk Tea, Bubble Tea)

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I don’t know what you call this stuff, but I’ve finally converted to calling it boba. All my UCLA friends made fun of me for calling it PMT (pearl milk tea), since apparently that’s just a Palo Alto thing, but I’ve been in SoCal so long that now I default to boba. Pearl milk tea makes sense, since the tapioca balls are the pearls, and they’re in milk tea. But the tapioca balls are also called boba, so I guess that makes sense too. However, I guess the rest of the US calls it bubble tea and that’s just weird. What part of boba is like a bubble? Maybe the fact that they’re round. Are they hollow? No. Can you pop them? No. Anyway, whether you call it boba, pmt, bubble tea, pearl drink, or something different altogether, it’s delicious. This surprisingly refreshing combination of tea, milk, and chewy, sweet tapioca pearls has a special place in my heart. However, it’s getting more expensive around here (Often over $4 a drink? Really?!), so I’ve resorted to making it myself. It turns out to be a lot easier than I expected, and really tasty, since you can customize it to your exact preferences.

The hardest thing about making this is perfecting the pearls. I made these quite a few times before finding the optimal cooking ranges. Trial and error! I cooked some too little, so they were hard and chewy in the middle, and I cooked some too much, so they were soft and stuck to your teeth. But I think now I’ve figured out how to do it best. There’s a range, depending on how you like your pearls, but since you’re cooking it yourself, you can adjust as necessary! That’s the beauty of making it at home. Also important, use the pearls within a few hours of cooking, or they’ll get hard. Until you use them, leave them soaking in the simple syrup. They’ll just get sweeter and more delicious!

As for buying the pearls, I found mine at Ranch 99, the nearest Chinese supermarket to my home. It was something like $4.99 for 2.2 pounds of dried tapioca pearls, or 2.99 for 1 pound. They came in options of black or rainbow, and I opted for black, since the pearls they have in boba cafes are always of the black variety. I got the 2.2 pound package, because they were the better deal. Obviously. Also, you can never have too much boba.

Anyway, the tea is also cheap at Ranch 99, so I got myself some osmanthus tea, which I discovered was actually gui hua, a fragrant tree we have in our backyard. I only ever knew the Chinese name for it, so I was happy to find out that this fragrant flower yielded a subtly fragrant and refreshing tea. I also have learned to appreciate jasmine green tea, so I picked up a box of that as well, and I have made boba with both of these tea varieties. Play around with it, and find a tea that you like! Here’s the recipe I follow, roughly.

Homemade Boba (Pearl Milk Tea, Bubble Tea)

adapted from The Kitchn

Makes 1 serving, multiply as necessary

Ingredients

¼-⅓ cup dry black tapioca pearls (I use ⅓ but you can increase or decrease depending on your pearl to drink ratio preference)

¼ cup honey

¼ cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar

⅓ cup hot water

1-2 tea bags of your choice, depending on how strong you like your tea (my favorites are osmanthus tea and jasmine tea)

¾ cup hot, almost boiling water

½ cup (or to taste) milk of your choice (I used soymilk)

Ice

Directions

In a measuring cup or bowl, combine the honey, ¼ cup of sugar, and hot water. The water just has to be hot enough to make a simple syrup, and this can also be achieved by adding cold water and microwaving and stirring until the honey and sugar dissolve.

Place the tapioca pearls in a pot and add enough water to have about an 2 inches above the level of the pearls. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring so the pearls don’t stick to the bottom, and boil for 5 minutes. Decrease heat to medium, add the extra 2 tablespoons of sugar, and simmer for 7-12 minutes. Do 7 if you prefer more chewy pearls, 12 if you prefer them super soft. Remember that when added to a cold drink, they will harden up a little bit, so cook them to be a little softer than you want in your drink, taste-testing encouraged!

In the meantime, steep your tea bag(s) in the almost boiling water. As the pearls cook, the tea will steep and cool. If you are making a warm drink, wait to do this step until about 5 minutes before you are done soaking the pearls.

After the pearls are cooked to your preference, drain the pearls and place in the simple syrup mixture. Allow the pearls to soak for at least 10 minutes, but the longer they sit, the more sweetness they will soak in.

Pour the cooled tea into a pint glass, then add the pearls, along with some of the simple syrup. Add the milk to taste, then sweeten with simple syrup to taste. If you desire a colder drink, add ice to the glass. Place a straw in and enjoy your homemade boba!

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Tip: Next time you buy boba, take a few extra straws, so for every time you splurge out, you can enjoy your own homemade variety at home a few times! Or you can use a spoon to scoop out the pearls, but it’s not quite the same experience.

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Boba time!

Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Brownies

Pumpkin+Chocolate=Delicious

Hello fall! I guess it’s been officially fall for a few weeks now, but it doesn’t quite feel like it. Still 80˚F outside, typical California. Can’t say I’m complaining! However, to make it feel a little more fall-ish, I decided to break out the pumpkin recipes! I made this delicious pumpkin bread earlier this week, which required 2 cups of canned pumpkin, and it turns out a 15oz can of pumpkin has one and a half cups of pumpkin. So I used a a can and a part of another can, so I had 1 cup of canned pumpkin left. What to do with this? Well, I’ve wanted to make pumpkin brownies for a while, so I decided to develop a recipe to fit the ingredients I had. I used one of my favorite brownie recipes from Something Swanky, and combined it with the pumpkin layer of a pumpkin brownie recipe from Smitten Kitchen. The brownie recipe I pretty much left alone except I left out the chocolate chunks, since there was going to be a whole pumpkin swirl layer to provide a flavor boost. We all have to make some sacrifices, and this one was worth it.

For the pumpkin layer, I got a little more creative. The original recipe would have ended up with 2 eggs in the pumpkin layer, but that seemed excessive to me. Pumpkin is an egg substitute and tends to make things more light and fluffy, and I wanted a dense, fudgy pumpkin layer, to match the fudgy brownie layer. So I decreased to one egg. It also called for granulated sugar, I since brown sugar holds moisture a little better, I decided to substitute that in. I increased the spices, as is my habit, since I really wanted the pumpkin spice flavor to come through. Since I only had 1 cup of pumpkin left, even though the original recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups, I just left it with 1 cup and they turned out fine, and the batter was probably denser and better for it. The bake time actually was shorter than I expected, I took them out at 30 minutes and they were just about perfectly baked. If you prefer gooier brownies and bars, then I’d probably take them out a few minutes earlier. If I were to make these again, I’d probably only bake them for 25-27 minutes, instead of the full 30. But anyway, here’s the recipe, so you can welcome in the fall!

Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Brownies

adapted from Something Swanky and Smitten Kitchen

Makes 20 brownies

Ingredients

Brownie Batter

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

Pumpkin Batter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp ginger

¼ tsp cloves

¼ tsp allspice

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin puree

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease a 9×9 baking pan.

For the brownie batter, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl cream together the butter and the sugar until a smooth paste forms. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and fold together until just combined. Spread the batter in a layer in the prepared pan.

For the pumpkin batter, sift together the flour, spices, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl cream together the butter, oil, and sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy, then beat in the pumpkin puree until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold together until just combined. Spread the pumpkin batter over the brownie batter in the prepared pan.

Using a spatula or knife, swirl together the brownie and pumpkin layer to create a marbled look. The brownie batter is much thicker than the pumpkin batter, so you may have to lift some of the brownie batter up over the pumpkin if you want it truly swirled together. I settled for a little more subtle marbling, with the layers still relatively separated. Bake the bars for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Do not overbake! Allow to cool in the pan for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

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Coffee Cake Cookies

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Hello! I’m alive, I know it’s been a while. Our kitchen has been down for the last 6 weeks for remodeling, so I haven’t had an oven for a while. It’s mostly up and running now, and at least we have use of the most important part, the oven! So in celebration, I decided to bake these coffee cake cookies that I’ve been eyeing for quite some time now, from Cookies and Cups. I only had a bit of Crisco left, so I modified the recipe to account for that, and I didn’t use the powdered sugar, since these are already sweet enough. I made cookies about half the size as the recipe calls for, so I reduced the baking time and ended up with a little leftover crumb topping, so I’d recommend reducing the crumb topping by a little bit if you end up making the same size cookies as I did. I know I know, it’s all about the crumb topping, but it was falling off the cookies, and you can only pile so much on.

These cookies are incredible. The cookie part is soft, buttery, almost shortbread-like, but softer and chewier. The crumb topping is delicious, perfectly crispy and sweet. I would definitely make these again, if I ever have a bit of shortening to use up. Or I might just buy some shortening to make these… They’re quite addicting, the perfect mix of crumbly soft cookie with crispy sweet crumb topping. It really is like a little mini crumb cake in cookie form. Here’s the recipe!

Coffee Cake Cookies

adapted from Cookies and Cups

Ingredients

Crumb Topping

10 tbsp butter, softened

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 2/3 cup flour (I recommend reducing to 1 1/3 cup)

Cookies

12 tbsp butter

1/4 cup shortening

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

3 1/3 cup flour

Instruction

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

To make the crumb topping, combine all ingredients in a bowl and cut together with a pastry cutter, fork, or your hands (I prefer using my hands to get nice big crumbs, and the warmth from your hands also helps to soften the butter and pull the mixture together). Refrigerate while making the cookies.

For the cookies, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugars until a smooth paste forms. You can do this by hand or in a stand mixer (I used my mixer). Add the cinnamon, eggs, and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add the salt and baking powder, and mix to combine. Slowly mix in the flour until all the flour has been well-incorporated.

Scoop balls of cookie dough (about 2 tbsp each, I used an overfilled medium cookie scoop) onto cookie sheets, then use the back of your scoop or spoon to make indentations in each cookie. The indentations should be deep enough to hold about 1 tablespoon of crumb topping. Scoop crumb topping, I did about 1 tbsp each, onto the cookies. Bake for 8 minutes, until the edges are barely turning golden, for softer cookies, or increase the baking time to 9-10 minutes for crispier cookies. I prefer them soft and chewy, so I kept the baking time low. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a couple minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Enjoy!

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Like little mini coffee cakes!

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