The Sensitive Kitchen

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ginger-Lovers' Linzer Cookies

These beautiful, festive cookies with a not-so-subtle kick are perfect for ginger lovers. A dough scraper or large semi-flexible stainless steel spatula helps transfer these cookies to parchment. I started with this Chipotle Gingerbread dough, adapted it to my liking, then slathered some spicy-sweet ginger spread between two cookies.

1/2 c unsalted butter
1 c plus 2 Tbsp brown sugar
2/3 c molasses
1 egg
2 3/4 c white whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground chipotle chile powder
Powdered sugar
Ginger spread

In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and egg, scraping down sides and bottom, until light and uniform.

Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture until it comes together into one uniform batter. Chill dough for 3+ hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out dough between Silpats or sheets of parchment paper to 1/4" thickness. Cut out circles; cut decorative shapes with smaller cutters in half of circles. Place circles on a parchment-lined cookie sheet; bake 10 minutes or until just done (do not let brown). Cool on sheets for a moment, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

When cooled, dust top halves of sandwiches (those with decorative cutouts) liberally with powdered sugar. Turn bottom halves (those without decorative cutouts) over and spread ginger spread evenly over flat bottoms. Press lightly together to make sandwiches. Store for up to 2 days in a closed container between sheets of parchment paper.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hot Chocolate for the Winter Solstice

I make this beverage for my family as a special treat, once a year on the winter solstice. We spend the evening outdoors, away from electric illumination, to honor the darkness; and cups of hot chocolate made with melted chocolate (not cocoa) have become part of the ritual.

3/4 c half-and-half
2 Tbsp raw sugar
1 c high-quality bittersweet (60%) chocolate chips
4 c milk
3/4 tsp real vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cayenne
pinch sea salt

Heat half-and-half and sugar until simmering. Remove from heat; add chocolate chips. Let sit a moment, then whisk to combine. Chocolate should be thoroughly melted. This chocolate base can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week to make individual cups of hot chocolate; when ready, proceed with recipe as follows.

Combine chocolate base and milk. Stir to combine, then heat thoroughly; do not boil. When piping hot, stir in vanilla, cayenne and sea salt. Decant into 4 preheated mugs.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Salted Chocolate Nutella Fudge

I took this recipe to a potluck tonight where there were about 30 people. No fudge was left at the end of the evening.

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
8 ozs (1 1/4 c) high-quality bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate chips
1 cup Nutella
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt

Line bottom and sides of a 9" baking pan with waxed paper, leaving a 2" overlap. It helps to dot the center bottom of the pan with a bit of butter to help the waxed paper stick.

In a medium glass bowl, stir together sweetened condensed milk, bittersweet chocolate chips, Nutella and butter. Cook over gently simmering water, or in the microwave, until the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, spread the top smooth with a spatula, and sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Using paper, lift fudge out of pan, then peel off waxed paper. Dip a knife into hot water, dry it, and cut the fudge into squares, dipping and drying knife as needed. Store fudge refrigerated in an airtight container. Makes 64 pieces.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Baked Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

While still definitely a treat, these doughnuts are baked, not fried, elevating them a notch on the healthfulness scale. Do they still taste good? My children – self-proclaimed experts on all things sweet – praised them as the best doughnuts they'd ever eaten.

This recipe makes 18 doughnuts, requiring the special equipment of 3 doughnut pans (or 1 used in heavy rotation).

1 3/4 c white whole wheat flour (or 2 c pastry flour)
1 c plus 2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 c cocoa powder, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon, or 1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional)
6 Tbsp butter
4 large eggs
6 Tbsp buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside.

Melt butter in a small bowl. Beat in eggs until thoroughly incorporated. Add buttermilk and vanilla. Pour liquid ingredients all at once into dry ingredients; stir just until combined. Batter will be thick.

Scrape batter into a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Cut off one corner, making an opening about 3/4" in size. Squirt the batter into the openings in the doughnut pans to fill each doughnut form half full.

Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 12 to 14 minutes. When done, they'll spring back when touched lightly. Remove pans from oven, remove doughnuts from pan (mine lifted straight out with a slender silicone spatula), and allow finished product to cool slightly before glazing.

Labels: ,