Fresh Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

So, I’ve been diving in to one of Alton Brown’s books, and his take on recipes is interesting. With that, I’m going to try to be more specific with why certain things are important. If they’re not that important or are flexible, then I won’t really put the details there.

Anyways, I’ve been told these cookies are also called cow patties, which sounds a lot more fun than just crinkle cookies. The batter and order of incorporating ingredients is going to feel sort of like a brownie, which makes these cookies soft and moist.

I love these cookies for a couple reasons: they’re fun to make (rolling stuff in powder sugar is as entertaining for me as it is a 5 year old) and they show off some of the fun science going on in baking.

The reason these cookies get their fun shape and texture seems obvious now that I write it, but such a mystery as I’m making it: the dough expands as the baking powder reacts to heat, and the powder sugar is only on the outside. Therefore, as the dough expands, the non-powder sugared areas are exposed. Just a fun little bit of magic for Christmas time.

On to the recipe!

Ingredients

  • Peppermint mixture
    • 6 candy canes and 6-8 leaves of fresh mint
  • 1 cup cocoa powder (I prefer dark chocolate, but to each their own)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

 

Things get pretty easy from here.

  1. Make your peppermint mixture. Put your candy canes and fresh mint in a food processor and grind until only little chunks of peppermint are left. As a rule of thumb, it’s almost always better to pair something processed with something fresh, and the extra kick of fresh mint really elevates these cookies.IMG_2059
  2. In the bowl of a mixture, beat together the cocoa powder, sugar and butter. Add in the eggs 1 at a time on low speed until fully combined.
  3. Add in the vanilla, peppermint mixture, salt, baking powder, and flour. Mix the together until you can’t see any more traces of the flour.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 2 hours.

2 hours later

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line cookie sheets with wax paper.
  3. Roll 1/2-1 inch balls of the batter in powdered sugar, then place on the baking sheets.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Let rest for 1 minute in their pan, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Try not to make yourself sick eating every one of them in 1 sitting!

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Bourbon Caramel Apple Pie

Alright, this was my ultimate creation of my Thanksgiving pies. If you want a real crowd pleaser, this pie looks and tastes great. Not to mention, the bourbon caramel sauce can be used to make anything fantastic.

A couple key tips before we start: DON’T take the skin off the apples. The texture of having the whole apple really adds a nice crunch. DO use 2 different types of apples – one that is sweeter and one that’s a little more bitter.

Ingredients

  •  Pie Dough (bourbon included)
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 4-6 apples
    • half Granny Smith
    • half Golden Delicious
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 cup bourbon

Start with the dough we’ve made. On a floured surface, roll the dough in to an 11-12 inch disk. If you did the frisbee trick, your dough is probably already in this shape. Toss in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Cut your apples in to 1/4 inch slices. Toss them in to a bowl and pour the lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and bourbon. You can use ground cinnamon, but I preferred grating cinnamon sticks over a microplane.

We’re going to do the apples in two waves, because one heap is going to be too much to cook evenly in the pan. In a medium saucepan on high heat, start to melt half of the butter. Pour half of the apples in to the pan, then toss in half of the sugar. Keep stirring until the sugar dissolves, then lower heat to medium temp until the apples become soft, about 5-7 minutes.

Pour all contents in to a bowl, then repeat process with the rest of the butter, apples and sugar. Strain the apples of the liquid, but keep that liquid.

Take your crust out of the fridge and place in pan. Brush the crust with your strained apple/bourbon/spices liquid. This will keep the crust moist and soft after baking.

Start to layer the apples in a circular formation around the crust. Slowly work your way towards the middle of the dough, then start again making a second layer. Your apple formation will look like this:

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Drizzle the apples with any of your strained liquid that’s left, and dust a small amount of sugar on top.

Place on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 50 minutes.

Now it’s bourbon caramel time. I’m telling you: this is by far the best thing I’ve made. It’s addicting. Beyond addicting.

Use my caramel recipe found here. Pour 1/4 cup of bourbon in to the heavy cream before adding it in. If the caramel is a little bit too liquid-y, put in freezer for about 15 minutes before starting to drizzle it all over the pie.

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And now you’ve got yourself a Thanksgiving pie stunner.

Home Made Whipped Cream

My wife brought home whipped cream for Thanksgiving pies. So, I made some anyway. It’s really easy. And tastes fresher than what you’ll get in a can.

Here’s all you need:

  • 3 T sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • (Like the pie dough, add 1/4 tsp bourbon if making bourbon apple pie)

Tip courtesy of Alton Brown: place a metal bowl and hand mixer whisk attachment into the freezer for 15 minutes. It’ll help with how the cream stiffens.

Place the sugar in to the bowl, then add the whipping cream. Either hand whisking or using a hand mixer, whisk until the cream starts to peak.

I used this on top of this pumpkin pie recipe from Paula Deen. I didn’t even give any one an option to have it – put a nice helping of this whipped cream on top of your pie before you even bring it to the party.

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Pie Dough

My first Thanksgiving as a home baker involved lots of dough making and experimenting with apples and pumpkin.

Here is going to be my recipe for the pie dough I made, and I’ll link it in any post I use it in.

Here’s the thing: I’ve never really liked pie dough. Hot take: Graham cracker crusts are better.

But, not every pie is made for a graham cracker crust. So, I bit the bullet and dove in to making a crust I’d actually eat. This recipe is a guaranteed winner – it comes out light and soft, yet still supportive of what’s inside.

Here’s what’s important: don’t use a mixer. Your hands are the best mixer you have. A tender crust needs a tender massage, not some plastic massage chair.

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 14 tablespoons butter, diced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with 2 T cold water
  • (If making my bourbon apple pie, mix in 1/8 cup bourbon)

Alright here we go.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using those phalanges, work in the butter until it starts to turn yellow with little droppings of butter inside. Add in your egg + water (and bourbon if that’s the way we’re going) and continue to mix by hand until you’ve got a big ball of dough.

Press the dough down in to a disc and wrap in plastic wrap to refrigerate. For real precision, put plastic wrap on the underside of a frisbee, then start to press dough until you press out to the rim. Plug it in to the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Baking will depend on the pie you’re making, but most likely 375 degrees for 50 minutes.

Chocolate chip cookie dough truffles w/ a salted caramel drizzle

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I was looking for some inspiration for today and saw a recipe for truffles similar to these. I started reading through it and said, “Lol, I can make these but so much better.” So I did. These balls are no bake (aka egg free) and only take patience in terms of watching them harden in the fridge.

A couple things:

-If you don’t like dark chocolate, then use a different kind of cocoa powder and chocolate chips.
-If you don’t like dark chocolate, get out.
-I made about 40 balls with these measurements.

Ingredients:

Cookie Dough
-1 stick of butter
-3/4 cups packed brown sugar
-2 cups flour
-1/2 tsp dark chocolate cocoa powder
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/3 cup heavy cream
-1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Chocolate coating
-1 pound (2 bags) dark chocolate morsels
-1 tsp dark chocolate cocoa powder
-Half and half as needed (probably about 1/2-3/4 cup)

-Last week’s Salted Caramel recipe, if you’re down for a good time 

  1. Easy money right here. Put the butter at room temperature in to the bowl, cut in to 1-2 tsp blocks for easier mixing, and add the sugar. Let that go on medium speed until mixed.
  2. Add the flour, dark chocolate cocoa powder, vanilla, and heavy cream, thoroughly mixing after each ingredient. Then, add the chocolate chips and mix together. Cover the batter and put in fridge for about 1 hour.IMG_2020
  3. Go watch TV or read a book for a while. Maybe even go to the gym for a quick workout.
  4. Grab that dough out of the fridge. Line a baking sheet with wax paper (you can just spray a pan, but this works a little better). Wash your hands with some flour. Don’t actually wash your hands, but take a pinch of flour and rub it between your hands to make it easier to handle the cookie dough.
  5. Roll in to little balls in the palm of your hand. Once you’re through the batter, put back in fridge to cool again for about 15 minutes.
  6. During this cooling time, lets make our chocolate sauce. Saucepan on medium heat, add your dark chocolate morsels and cocoa powder in to the pan. As it starts to melt, start whisking in the half and half. Keep adding half and half until you get a milky chocolate texture. It’ll be in the ballpark of half a cup. Too little, and the chocolate won’t spread on your cookie dough (just add more half and half). Too much, and you have chocolate soup (just add more chocolate).IMG_2016
  7. Take your balls out of the fridge, and use a fork to roll them in the chocolate. That’s it. Once they’re all covered, put back in the fridge to cool while you make the salted caramel.
  8. Party people: time to make that salted caramel!
  9. Once you’ve got the caramel finished, take your truffles out of the fridge, and use a spoon to drizzle the caramel over the truffles.
  10. Freeze for 30-45 minutes.

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Salted Caramel Brownies

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It’s Monday, which means it’s a baking day. Fort Worth is starting to feel like fall, and I’ve been in a mood for pumpkin and/or salted caramel. I made pumpkin bread last week, so today was a caramel type of day. This recipe is pretty darn easy, but I do have a couple caveats:

-Make the caramel first. It can be tempting to just make it while the brownies are baking, but making it first gives the sugars time to rest and thicken. It’ll work either way, but I think it’s better with a firmer caramel.

-I’m a double the recipe type of guy, so if you aren’t in to sharing, cut the brownie recipe in half. The caramel can just be put in a container for more fun later (like dipping apples in), so I’d still make the same amount.

The Caramel Sauce

Don’t buy this in the store. It’s so easy to make. Here’s what you need:

-1/4 cup water
-1 cup sugar
-2/3 or 3/4 cup heavy cream (depending on how much you want to make)
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 tsp sea salt
  1. Whisk together the water and sugar on medium heat. Keep whisking until the sugar dissolves and you start to see some bubbles.
  2. When you see bubbles, turn to high heat and stop stirring. Just stand there and look at it. Sounds dumb, but it’s cool to watch.
  3. When you see your mixture turn amber, take off heat. PAY CLOSE ATTENTION, because if you let it go too long, it’ll burn real quick. Eyes on the prize people. Whisk in heavy cream, vanilla, and sea salt one at a time, and stir until your hand gets tired (or it looks like caramel).
  4. Eat with spoon, then repeat steps to make sauce for brownies 😀.

The Brownies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray baking pan(s).

Here what you need (remember, this is enough for two pans of these bad boys):

-3 sticks of butter (1 1/2 cups)
-8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (2 Ghirardelli chocolate bars)
-3 cups sugar
-6 eggs
-2 1/2 cups of flour
-1/2 cup cocoa powder (not dark chocolate; just normal chocolate – don’t get too crazy)
-1 tsp salt
-1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
-Caramel sauce

Melt together your butter, semi-sweet chocolate, and half of your chocolate chips. For a little bit softer brownies, also add 1/4 cup of heavy cream (you should do this, but you do do).

Combine sugar and eggs in mixing bowl, then start to pour in your chocolate mixture. Once they’ve co-mingled enough, add in the flour and cocoa powder. Wait until you can’t see any more white, then add the salt and fold in the chocolate chips.

Bake for 25 minutes. Do the toothpick test – for a deeper pan, you will need to bake for 5 more minutes.

Take the goodies out the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Pour on your nice thick caramel sauce, let sit for 5 minutes, then stick in the fridge to cool (not totally necessary, but if you’ve got the time, let that caramel sauce seep in to the brownies).

Invite friends over, or don’t and eat them all yourself. Look at the pretty gloss. My wife just got a new mirror, but I’ll just stare in to this glass instead.

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