Chocolate Rugelach

Happy finals week! For everyone on the quarter system, it’s probably spring quarter finals coming up, so good luck with studying! My classmates and I have realized that at this point in our careers, our finals are less about rote memorization and more about being able to use clinical reasoning, so I’m pleased to say that finals aren’t nearly as stressful as they were back in undergrad, when most if not all the exams consisted of regurgitating information.

In any case, since I’m not spending all my waking time studying, I made these delicious rugelach with my baking buddy, Shelby, on Friday night! We have also both realized that our ideal Friday night is spending it baking together and going to sleep at a reasonable hour. We may be getting old…

But in any case, we made these delicious Jewish pastries, and adjusted a recipe from the King Arthur Flour bakealong. We weren’t too keen on using nuts and raisins as the filling, so we just used the filling from this recipe on Just a Taste. We made the individual cookies smaller than the original recipe called for, so this recipe makes 48 smaller cookies, rather than 36 large ones. These turned out extremely well! The cookies were flaky, and bursting with chocolate with a touch of cinnamon. They also look quite nice, which is always a bonus. Here’s the recipe!

Chocolate Rugelach

Makes 48 cookies

Adapted from King Arthur Flour and Just a Taste

Ingredients:

Crust

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

6 oz cream cheese (we used reduced fat)

1/3 cup sour cream

½ tsp salt

3 tbsp granulated sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

6 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped or processed in a food processor

½ cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions

Cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sour cream in a stand mixer or by hand. Beat in the salt and sugar, then stir in the flour until a soft, sticky dough forms. Divide the dough into 6 portions (or 2 or 3 and then you can just divide again later), wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until the dough is firmed up but not rock hard.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and prepare baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 6 equal sections. Shape one section into a circular disc, then roll out into a circle about 1/8 inch thick.

Brush the melted butter on the rolled out circle, getting it all the way to the edge. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the dough, then sprinkle the chopped chocolate and press lightly into the dough.

Cut the circle into 8 wedges, then roll the wedges from the wide part of the wedge inwards towards the point of the wedge. Place with the tail end tucked under onto the parchment, to prevent it from unraveling while it bakes.

Repeat with the remaining 5 portions of dough.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the rugelach are a lovely golden brown color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool (or eat them warm from the pan!) Enjoy!

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Such a pretty swirl inside!

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

My family often gets together with my cousin’s family for holidays, and a few years ago my aunt made these delicious cookies for our Christmas get-together. I loved the cookies, and my aunt gave me the recipe, but I just never got around to making them until a few weeks ago. A big thank you to my wonderful aunt for this delicious recipe!

These cookies are bursting with chocolate, and the powdered sugar coating gives them that nice crackly top appearance. These cookies are gooey, chewy, and completely delicious. They do require some chilling, but it’s only a couple hours, just so the dough firms up enough that they don’t spread out into pancake cookies in the oven. Definitely worth the wait! Here’s the recipe!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Makes about 50 cookies

Ingredients

4 oz unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2-3/4 cup powdered sugar (for coating)

Directions

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in a medium bowl in 30 second intervals at 60% power. Stir in the oil and sugar until well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then add the the chocolate mixture. Mix until well combined.

Chill for at least 2 hours, up to a couple days.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Scoop about 2 tsp of dough (I used a small size cookie scoop) and roll into balls, then roll in the powdered sugar. Flatten slightly and place on a baking sheet a couple inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until the tops are crackly and almost set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool and set for a few minutes before removing from the pans. Enjoy!

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Millionaire Shortbread Bars

Happy Friday! I have a wonderful recipe today, inspired by the gray skies and rainy days of Seattle. The cherry blossoms bloomed, we had a couple sunny and nice days, and now the rain and clouds are back to remind us that summer’s not quite coming for another few months. However, the poor weather outside means that I’ve been in the kitchen! I made some caramel shortbread last week with my baking buddy Shelby, and it inspired me to make one of the things that’s been on my list for a couple years now-millionaire bars!

I have no idea what the origin of the name millionaire bars is, but they’re basically homemade Twix bars. There’s a shortbread cookie layer on the bottom, soft caramel in the middle, and the whole thing is topped with chocolate! I personally like dark chocolate better than milk, so that’s what I used. A lot of recipes for this that I found just called for storebought caramels for the caramel layer, but I wanted to make it from scratch (plus I didn’t want to make a grocery trip just to buy caramels). I generally don’t like caramel, but mostly due to the sticky taffy texture, and the caramel we made for the shortbread caramel cookies tasted more like toffee and it was nice and soft without sticking too much to your teeth, so I took that caramel recipe for these bars and it was wonderful! It’s not super sticky or hard, so it does tend to squish out of the bars a little bit, but you still get a nice toffee caramel flavor in each bite. After mixing and matching a few recipes and some improvisation, here’s what I came up with!

Millionaire Shortbread Bars

Makes 1 8×8 pan

Ingredients

Shortbread:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

Caramel:

1/3 cup brown sugar

¼ cup unsalted butter

2 tbsp heavy cream

Chocolate

8 oz dark chocolate

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line an 8×8 baking pan with greased aluminum or parchment paper. Cream together the butter, sugar, and flour until a course mixture forms. Press the shortbread mix into the pan and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool before pouring the caramel over the shortbread.

To make the caramel, melt the butter and brown sugar together in a saucepan until bubbles form, then remove from heat and whisk in the heavy cream. Set aside to cool and thicken about 10 minutes, before pouring over the cooled shortbread. Spread the caramel evenly, then set aside to cool while you make the chocolate.

To make the chocolate layer, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler, then pour over the caramel layer and spread evenly. Place the bars in the fridge to set for at least an hour, then slice into bars. Serve and store at room temperature so the chocolate isn’t rock-hard. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Digestive Cookies

Spring is coming! We had a gloriously sunny weekend here in Seattle, and it’s got everyone feeling great! Never mind that it’s finals week, the sunshine just has the incredible power to boost everyone’s mood, and I love it. I actually got the chance to try snowshoeing for the first time this weekend, and it was amazing! There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the snow was glittering. When the Pacific Northwest has sunny days, it is truly beautiful and I’m glad I get to experience it while going to school here.

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Now for the cookies. Ever since my family visited Europe a few years ago and brought back digestives for me to try, I’ve wanted to try and make some of my own. I tried a recipe a couple years ago which was rather unsuccessful, but I tried this one I found over at Serious Eats and it’s a winner! The only thing I changed was to use semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup), rather than chopped chocolate.

These cookies turned out crispy and delicious, with a wonderful chocolate coating! Since I really didn’t change the recipe, go check it out here. Enjoy!

 

Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies

Aloha from Hawaii! My family is fortunate enough to be taking a vacation on the glorious island of Kauai, and it could not be more wonderful. We’re enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery, glittering ocean waves, a warm salty breeze and the sun! I hear it was a white Christmas back in Seattle but I’m perfectly content to have spent my Christmas snorkeling and lounging by the water.

However, I do love holiday cookie recipes, so here’s another one that I tried out before we left! I adapted the recipe from Martha Stewart, increasing the cocoa powder and using natural instead of Dutch-processed. I used candied ginger chips instead of grated fresh ginger, and I also increased the amount of sugar, since otherwise the dough was a little too bitter from the molasses. I loved the combination of ginger and chocolate, and these cookies turned out wonderfully chewy, and when they were warm from the oven the insides of the cookies were still gooey, and combined with the melty chocolate chips they were amazing. The crackly tops and the sparkly sugar make these cookies nice and festive for the holidays, although I would welcome these any time of the year! Here’s the recipe I used.

Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes about 40 cookies

Ingredients

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tbsp natural cocoa powder

1 ½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cloves

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup unsulfured molasses

¾ cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

½ cup candied ginger pieces

2 tbsp granulated or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (I ended up using both)

Directions

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and molasses until well combined. Stir in the dry ingredients and mix until well combined, then add the chocolate chips and candied ginger. Mix until the chips and ginger are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Cover and chill at least 2 hours, or overnight. When ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 325˚F. Using a small cookie scoop (about 1 tbsp of dough per cookie), scoop out the dough and roll into a ball, then roll in the granulated or turbinado sugar. Flatten slightly and place on cookie sheets about 1 ½ inches apart.

Bake for 8-9 minutes, until cookies have nice crackly tops, then remove from oven and allow to cool a couple minutes before removing from cookie sheets and transferring to racks or plates to cool completely. Enjoy!

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Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well I’m officially back in Seattle for my second year of physical therapy school. After an amazing clinical internship in Eugene, OR in August, and a brief few weeks at home in sweet California, I drove straight from summer sun into fall clouds and rain. Fall is a wonderful time of year, with the changing leaves and the arrival of all the seasonal autumn goods at the grocery store. Which leads, of course, to baking adventures! I’ve baked quite a bit over the last week, and there are many fall-inspired recipes to come, but the one I have today is a variation of one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes with a matcha twist.

dscn8363.jpgI recently discovered that I really enjoy matcha tea, so I bought myself some matcha powder. However, it came in a rather large can, so I decided to think of some other uses for it other than making matcha lattes, and matcha-flavored baked goods are relatively popular, so I figured I’d try my hand at it. The results were great! The powder is pretty potent, so a little goes a long way in this recipe. You could also probably omit the chocolate chips for just plain matcha sugar cookies, but perhaps that’s a recipe I’ll try another day. In any case, here’s the recipe I came up with!

Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen small cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp matcha powder

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Cream together the butter and sugars until a rough paste forms. Beat in the vanilla and egg until light and fluffy. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and matcha powder, and stir until thoroughly combined. Add the chocolate chips and mix until the chips are evenly incorporated into the dough.

Drop scoops of dough, about 1 tbsp each, a couple inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake for 8 minutes, until just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a couple minutes before transferring to racks or plates to cool completely. Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Brownies

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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