Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Two years ago I was in Panama drinking green beer on St. Patrick’s Day. Last year I was in the Alps hanging out with this guy…

And this year I imagine I shall be celebrating somewhere out in France. Funny how this has turned into such an international holiday for me! Being over in Paris, I know a lot of my friends are planning on heading over to Dublin for the weekend. I cannot wait to hear the crazy stories that I’m sure will come out of those adventures!

With St. Patrick’s Day in the air, I figured a cookie with a beer reduction added to it seemed quite appropriate. These are some super delicious cookies – they have 3 types of chocolate in them! I might not be the most authoritative figure on beer tasting, but I couldn’t really taste the beer. It’s definitely in there though, so if you want to make something with alcohol in for this beer drinking holiday, I promise you, this has beer in it!!

I know some people don’t really like white chocolate, but it’s the perfect compliment to this chocolate cookie. The beer reduction certainly gives the cookies their deep brown color even if the taste doesn’t shine through. I’m really missing my mix master a lot these days, as I know these cookies would have been that much better if I could have whipped the butter just a little more than my poor arm, which was trying as hard as it could with a simple little whisk. Of course, these was almost a whole sheet pan of these that didn’t even make it to the cooling rack before they found their way into my mouth 🙂

ST. PATRICK’S DAY CHOCOLATE BEER COOKIES

(Adapted from The Galley Gourmet)

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 2 (12-ounce) bottles of Guinness extra stout or draught
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 extra large egg yolk
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups white chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

1) In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce the Guinness and the brown sugar, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until thick and syrupy and measures 1/3 cup, about 30-45 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

3) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (OR WITH YOUR OWN ARM!), cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, until combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

4) With the mixer on low, gradually add the cooled beer syrup, mixing until combined.  Gradually add the dry mixture until no flour is visible.

5) Fold in both the white and milk chocolate chips.

6) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours, preferably overnight.

7) Preheat the oven to 325° F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop (about 2 tablespoons), scoop out portions of the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet spaced 3 inches apart.

8) Bake the cookies until the edges are set, about 15-17 minutes.

9)  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

10) Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cranberry Biscotti

I’ve learned that dried cranberries make just about anything better. Can you honestly think of one thing that dried cranberries wouldn’t go good in? Cookies – check! Granola – check! They can often be a wonderful addition to savory dishes as well, such as chicken and even omelets! I look forward to Thanksgiving every year with great ernest, knowing that it’s prime cranberry season. Last year at our Turkey Day meal, we had a cranberry port ice cream and a panna cotta pie with candied dried cranberries on top. I obviously hog the cranberry sauce as it’s passed around the table.

The gory process of cranberry port ice cream: 

I have always wanted to make biscotti and when I saw I had some cranberries in my cupboard, I figured why the heck not try throw them in. My precious bag of chocolate chips is slowly getting smaller and smaller but I’m hoping with an onslaught of American visitors coming next month, my stock will be replenished! When I was younger, I used to eat biscotti like no bodies business. I always remember cafes selling them in giant glass jars right at the check-out and I would always beg my mom or dad to buy one for me.

Having never made these before, I did some research behind these crunchy cookies. They originated in Italy, are usually almond based and are twice baked to receive that famous crunchy tecture. Originally they didn’t have any fats or yeast in them, but the recipe I used for called for a little bit of oil (I actually used butter) and some baking powder. I didn’t have any almond extract either, but added some almond flour I had, which was more understated than I imagine extract would have been, but still delicious.

These are really such an easy cookie to make, but always give off the appearnce of seeming quite complicated. I want to try making biscotti again, playing with different flours and fillings. I’m thinking a nutella biscotti is definitely in the works 😉

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Biscotti

(Adapted from Cooking Lite)

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (or 1 tbs almond flour)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • Cooking spray

DIRECTIONS: 

1) Preheat oven to 350°.

2) Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour and the next 5 ingredients in a large bowl.

3) Combine butter, extracts, and eggs; add to flour mixture, stirring until well-blended (dough will be dry and crumbly). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 7 to 8 times.

4) Divide the dough in half. Shape each portion into an 8-inch-long roll. Place rolls 6 inches apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; flatten each roll to 1-inch thickness.

5) Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Remove rolls from baking sheet; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut each roll diagonally into 15 (1/2-inch) slices.

6) Place the slices, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 325°, and bake for 10 minutes. Turn cookies over; bake an additional 10 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool).

7) Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire rack. 

How speculoos changed my life (and other birthday treats)

Yesterday was my 22nd birthday. I know, I’m so old! I’m constantly given a look of shock when I say I’m turning 22 (and now can simply say am 22) as opposed to the classic 21 that most of my friends are turning this year. I like to think it makes me wiser this new age of 22. Seriously, 18 is great, 21 is obviously great, but then 22….well, 22 you’re just old now. Obviously I shouldn’t be complaining – I’m not really that old, I live in Paris and after an awful 21st year filled with chemotherapy, PET scans, and the loss of sushi in my life for over 6 months, I think I can pretty safely say 22 will have to be a better year. One of the reasons I know it’s going to be better is because of this little gem of a discovery….

Yes, speculoos spread has changed my life. The way I like to describe it to people is think of those little biscoff cookies on Delta flights. You know? The ones I can never get enough of. Well, speculoos is pretty much biscoff cookies in spread form. Seriously, if it doesn’t surpass nutella and peanut butter on the amazing spread scale, it’s right up with it. It goes on any bread or cracker, or my personal favorite – right on a spoon out of the jar. I have found a lot of pretty spectacular food items here in France, but speculoos tops them all, so far at least. (I have been told that you can find biscoff spread in a jar back in the states, but I have never seen it – have you?)

Knowing my new found obsession, my lovely friend Audrey not only bought me a fresh bottle of speculoos (I’ve gone through one and half in the past 10 days alone) but she also got me the next best thing to speculoos itself – A SPECULOOS COOKBOOK!

It’s so awesome. Not only does it have recipes for sweets, like speculoos cheesecake and speculoos twills, but it has savory dishes as well, like chicken! I’m most looking forward to making baked apples stuffed with mascarpone cheese swirled with speculoos and topped with some speculoos crumble. I promise to update once I delve into some speculoos baking adventures. Got to hand it to Audrey, it was a pretty perfect gift. As you can tell, my other gifts didn’t fall far behind in the food category. Finally, blessed baking soda!!!! 

In the end, I’m now a year a older, but have more baking supplies than I did yesterday, so I can’t really complain. In going with the whole food theme, my best friend Charlotte, who was sadly was over 3000 miles away from me this year, still knew how to pull off all the stops on her gift. She got me a gift certificate to go out to brunch here in Paris!! I think I’m going to hold out on going for just a bit until it gets a bit warmer and I can sit outside, but after dessert, brunch is definitely my favorite meal in the entire world! Thank you so much to everyone who didn’t make me feel so old this year 🙂 Lots more baking to come this year!

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (And my quest for chocolate chips in Paris)

Once again, in my pursuit to find chocolate chips, I’m reminded how different the French baking style is from the American one. I know, crazy to think about given how much the French like their pastries, or so it would seem from the amount of patisseries on every street, yet somehow, simple chocolate chips are incredibly hard to come by. Every store I walk into, I check to see if they have any. Some have none, and the markets that do have them only have teeny bags! I think I’m going to seriously need to invest in some industrial size bags. I am also recruiting anyone who plans on coming to Paris soon to bring me some 😉

So I did finally manage to snag a pack of these chocolatey pieces the other day and decided, what better thing to make with them than chocolate chip cookies! Instead of the basic cookie, I decided to brown my butter. Something you should know about me is that I LOVE brown butter. Honestly, I think brown butter makes everything better. By heating up butter in a sauce pan, the liquids and the fats separate. As the fats start to toast at the bottom of the pan, it gives off the most amazing nutty smell, which corresponds to the nutty flavor it adds to baked goods. 

I also realized that since I don’t have a a mixer or my beloved KitchenAid with me, brown butter is much easier to blend with the sugars in the recipe if you don’t let it solidify again. Most recipes say the butter should be cooled completely before using, but I just let it cool to room temperature before I put it in with my other ingredients. I also was too impatient to let these cool for an hour in the fridge and was worried they might spread too much. I think the extra egg yolk acts as a glue though, so they stayed perfectly round, even when the dough was at a room temp. 

I popped these into the oven for just a few minutes and barely let them cool for a second before I grabbed for one. Quite honestly, I don’t think the brown butter made a huge difference, but they were still some very yummy chocolate chip cookies. They were puffy and cakey, just how I like them. I would definitely like to play around with the brown butter some more – maybe letting it solidify would have actually been a good idea – but either way, these certainly satiated my cookie craving. BROWN BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

(Just your pretty basic chocolate chip cookie recipe with some brown butter)

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. To brown butter, heat in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter begins to simmer. Continue cooking, stirring, just until butter begins to turn golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Pour off into a measuring cup or bowl, leaving darkest sediment behind. Let the butter cool to room temperature.
  3. In a large mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat the browned butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg and egg yolk, milk, and vanilla. Beat on low speed until well blended.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the egg and butter mixture, mixing on low speed, until a soft dough forms. Scrape the bowl a few times. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover and chill for about an hour.
  6. Heat the oven to 375°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat; spray paper with cooking spray.
  7. Using a cookie scoop, drop balls of dough onto the silicone mat or greased parchment, allowing about 2 to 3 inches in between the cookies.
  8. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes, until browned around the edges. Cool completely and transfer to an airtight container for storage.