Pecan Cookies with Chocolate

Cookies, Recipes

I am still in search of the perfect cookie… Last week I attended a five-days long advanced training at university. Because of my lactose-intolerance and fructose-intolerance, I sometimes have a hard time finding agreeable food at the cafeteria or in restaurants. So I decided to take some home-made cookies with me, just in case – I do not like being hungry!

Here they are, the Pecan Cookies with Dark Chocolate (lactose-free):

PekanCookies 1

 and the Pecan Cookies with White Chocolate (not lactose-free):

 PekanCookies 2

I was right with my skepticism concerning cafeteria food. As suspected, the food was not ideal for me. I wasn´t starving, though, rather the opposite – I felt stuffed by all those grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato-mozzarella-wraps! Not even the lactase pills helped. I think next time I´ll bring home-made granola with me instead of cookies, and buy lactose-free joghurt at the supermarket!

Of course I still ate the cookies, despite feeling stuffed. The cookies had that irresistible “have-one-more” taste…

PekanCookies 3

The cookies also passed the quality-test at home: My teenager-son emptied the cookie tin in no time. He then called me while I was in that advanced training and told me he wanted more cookies. So. It seems that with this recipe, I might be one step closer to the perfect cookie!

To my surprise, all my test-eaters preferred the lactose-free variety with the dark chocolate to the original white-chocolate-variety.

PekanCookies 4

Ingredients:
1⅛ cup (250 g) soft butter (lactose-free, if you are very sensitive to lactose)
½ cup (100 g) sugar
1⅛ cup (200 g) brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla sugar
4 cups (400 g) flour
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking powder
¾ cup (100 g) pecans, chopped

For lactose-free cookies:
7.2 oz. (200 g) dark chocolate, lactose-free, coarsely chopped (e.g. Lindt 70%, Merci 72%)

For cookies with lactose:
7.2 oz. (200 g white) chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preparation:
In a small bowl, combine flour,, salt and baking powder.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla sugar with a hand mixer or the kitchen machine until fluffy. Add one egg and beat it in for at least one minute, then add the second egg and beat in for another minute.

Add the flour mixture and beat until you get a smooth batter. Do not overbeat.

With a wooden spoon, fold in the chopped nuts and the chopped chocolate.

Separate the batter into two portions and press each portion into a log of about 6-7 inches (15-18 cm). The diameter should be 2-3 inches, depending on how big you want your cookies. I prefer large cookies!

Wrap the logs into cling foil and store in the fridge for about two hours or more. The cold logs will be firm.

Now it´s time for baking the cookies: Cover baking sheets with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 340° F (170° C).

Remove the cling foil. Cut the logs into slices of about an inch. If necessary, press the slices into a round shape. I did not manage to make my logs as round as planned, so I had to shape the cookies by hand. This was quick and easy and no problem at all.

Put the cookies onto the baking sheets. Make sure you leave enough space between them; they will rise and spread. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until they are quite flat and golden brown at the edge.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a short time, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes about 24 large cookies.

 PekanCookies 5

Adapted from:

Tarek Malouf (2013), Kuchenglück. Ostfildern: Jan Thorbecke Verlag.

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Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Uncategorized

I got the recipe for these Cinnamon Rolls from a crime novel. In Diane Mott Davidson´s crime novel series, the heroine Goldy runs a catering business in Colorado. In between preparing buffets for wedding receptions, parties and school lunches, she solves all kinds of complicated small town murder cases. I enjoyed the novels very much, not only because of the witty writing style, but also because of the interesting recipes which Goldy provides every now and then.

Diane Mott Davidson

In “The Last Suppers”, Goldy makes “Monster Cinnamon Rolls”, as she calls them. They sounded so good that I had to bake them. When I made them the first time, I followed the directions in the book to the letter. At the end of this experiment, I knew how the rolls had gotten their name. They were delicious, but enormous, way too big for one person to eat. If you want to know what I mean: I will give you the original amounts of ingredients at the end of the recipe. Trust me – you won´t believe how much sugar there is in the original recipe!

Zimtschnecken 2

Anyway, the rolls, were delicious, but too much. I have been adapting the recipe numerous times until I was finally satisfied with the result. There´s definitely something about this combination of soft yeast dough, the cinnamon and brown sugar filling, the luscious cinnamon-caramel which accumulates at the bottom of the pan during the baking process, and the delightful cream cheese frosting.

 

Zimtschnecken 3

Zimtschnecken 3 (2)

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Ingredients:

Dough:
¾ stick (90 g) butter
½ cup (120 ml) milk, lactose-free
¼ cup (60 ml) water
⅜ cup (80 g) sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 ¼-ounce envelopes  (14 g) active dry yeast
2 large eggs
4 ¼ to 4 ¾ cups (500g – 630 g) all-purpose flour

Filling:
2 cups (350 g) brown sugar
1 stick (125 g) butter, softened
2 tbsp. ground cinnamon

Frosting:
6.5 oz. (200 g) cream cheese, lactose-free
¼ cup (60 ml) whipping cream, lactose-free
2 tbsp. vanilla sugar
1 ½ to 2 cups (130 g to 200 g) powdered sugar, sifted (I prefer 1 ½ cups)

For the dough, heat butter, milk, sugar, water and salt in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted. Set aside to cool. The mixture should be lukewarm when added to the yeast-flour mixture.

Put 4 ¼ cups flour, yeast, and eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the lukewarm milk mixture. Beat until well combined, using a kitchen machine and a dough hook. Keep beating; add flour until you get a stiff dough. Knead for about five minutes until you get a smooth dough.

Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it is about twice as big; about 1 hour.

Prepare the baking pan while the dough is rising: butter a baking pan of about 9 x 13 inches. Alternatively, adjust a baking frame to this size and put it onto a baking sheet which is covered with baking parchment.

Punch the dough down. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a rectangle of about 20 inches by 30 inches (about 50 cm by 75 cm).

For the filling, beat butter, brown sugar and ground cinnamon with a hand mixer until well combined. Spread the mixture on the dough evenly. Roll the dough up, starting from the small side. Cut the log of dough into 12 pieces of about 1 ½ inches. Place the rolls into the buttered pan or the baking frame. Cover them with a kitchen towel and let them rise until they are twice as big, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175° C). Bake the rolls for about 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them cool.

For the frosting, beat cream cheese, whipping cream and vanilla sugar with a hand mixer until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. The mixture should remain smooth and not become stiff.

Frost the cinnamon rolls once they have cooled down.

You want to give the original recipe a try? Well, here is what you need:

Dough:
You have to double the ingredients, with one exception: you need 5 eggs. Roll the dough to a rectangle of 24 inches by 36 inches, and make the rolls 2 inches high. You get 12 rolls again, but those are twice as big as mine.

Since you have the double amount of dough, you need two baking pans of the size stated above. Put 6 rolls into each baking pan. The rolls will be very big, almost like small cakes!

Filling:
You need 5 cups brown sugar (Yes! 5 cups! This is not a typing mistake!!!), 2 ½ sticks butter, and 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon. The butter and the sugar will melt while baking and accumulate at the bottom of the pan, where they will be soaked up by the rolls. Delicious, and extremely sweet.

Frosting:
You need ½ pound cream cheese, ¼ cup whipping cream, 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar or 1 tsp. vanilla extract, and 3-4 cups powdered sugar, depending on how sweet you want the rolls.

I like sugar, but this version is a bit too sweet for me. I find my version very sweet already!

Nut Wedges

Cookies, Recipes

Last weekend I realized that it was only just about four more weeks until Christmas! It is not even really December yet and does not feel like pre-Christmas-time at all! Never mind. Pre-Christmas time means baking, so off to the kitchen I headed.

Each year I start my Christmas-baking with Nut Wedges. This has become something of a tradition. Nut Wedges are ideal, as with one baking session I will get a big tin of cookies. This immediately gives me the feeling of having achieved something, and also of having a bit of a stock of cookies. Nut Wedges are also my son´s favorites – another reason to start my baking with them!

Nussecken 1

The list of cookies I want to bake this year is a long one! “Linzer Augen“, „Linzer Stangen“, Vanilla Crescents, Heart-Shaped Cookies with Rose Hip Jam, Star-Shaped Cinnamon Cookies, Caramelized Nuts in Chocolate, Coconut Wedges, Nut Cookies with Marzipan, and more… Let´s see how far I´ll get!

The recipe for these Nut Wedges is ancient – it is from a TV magazine from the late 80s or early 90s, I do not really remember. Nut Wedges were among the first Christmas cookies I ever made. As back then I was just getting started with baking, I found the recipe challenging, especially as there was a mistake with the measurements. Meanwhile I know how to make these cookies fast and without problems, and I have corrected the measurement-mistake long ago.

I always bake Nut Wedges according to this recipe, as I know it will work!

Nussecken 7

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Ingredients:

Short pastry / Dough:
2 cups (250 g) flour or whole wheat flour
⅓ cup (70 g) brown sugar
1 stick (125 g) butter
1 egg
1 pinch of salt
½ jar of apricot jam (or another jam you like, e.g. strawberry)

Topping:
3 cups (300 g) ground hazelnuts
1 stick (125 g) butter
½ cup (100 g) brown sugar
3 tbsp. water

Chocolate glazing:
8.8 oz. (250 g) dark chocolate, lactose-free
⅓-½ cup (80 g-100 g) butter

Nussecken 2

Preparation:
Short pastry / dough:

Cover a baking sheet with baking paper.

Preheat the oven to 400 ° F (200° C).

Put flour, sugar and salt onto the work surface. Cut the cold butter into small cubes. Add egg and butter to the flour mixture. With your hands, quickly knead to a dough. If possible, let the dough rest in the fridge/a cool place for half an hour.

Alternatively use a kitchen machine:
Knead the ingredients with a dough hook until you get a firm dough. I mostly use this method when making short pastry. It is fast and works well. It also keeps my hands clean!

Roll the dough into a rectangle of about 8×12 inches (20×30 cm). You can do so either directly on the baking sheet (covered with baking paper), or on a sheet of baking paper which you then transfer to the baking sheet together with the dough. Put a baking frame around the dough so you can spread the topping right to the edge.

Evenly spread the apricot jam on the dough.

For the topping, cut the butter into small pieces. Put butter, sugar and water into a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from the oven and stir in the ground hazelnuts. Allow the mixture to cool.

Evenly spoon the hazelnut mixture over the jam. Spread with a knife or a pastry spatula and press down a little (using your hands helps!).

Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Cut into small triangles while still warm. You do not have to separate the triangles yet.

Let the triangles cool on the sheet.

For the chocolate glazing, cut (or break) chocolate and butter into small pieces. Put chocolate and butter in a small pot and melt in a double boiler, or at low heat on the oven. Stir well. If the glazing is runny, add more chocolate. If it is not runny enough, add more butter.

Dip the Nut Wedges into the chocolate glazing and let them cool on a cooling rack.

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Keep in an airtight cookie tin.

(Frustratingly crumbly) Carrot Cake with Walnuts and Cream Cheese Frosting

Nice try, Recipes

Life was so busy lately that I simply did not get around to writing for this blog. Work, work, work, helping the kids with their studies, housekeeping, and all the rest. No time for writing.

At the weekend I decided to bake, despite all the work I had to do. I thought it would give me the feeling that there was still something like a “normal” life left. I tried hard to make a pretty and tasty cake, but it did not really work out. It is certainly better to do your baking when you have enough time for it and do not have to do all kinds of additional activities besides!

The recipe I chose was also not ideal, considering that the weekend was quite full already. I wanted to bake this Carrot Cake, which has already gone wrong once. When I baked it in a loaf pan as the recipe said, it looked like this:

 Karotten Walnusskuchen Versuch 1

The cake kept bothering me. The taste was excellent. Dark, moist, not too sweet, with an intense aroma of walnuts and cinnamon and a hint of lemon. I could not understand why it had not risen. That is why I decided to try it again.

This time I baked the Carrot Cake in a round baking pan. I was hoping that this way the batter would rise better than in the loaf pan. I was planning to fill and frost the cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, and to decorate it with caramelized walnuts.

Unfortunately, this second attempt did not work out as I had planned. The cake was baked right through, but it was so moist and crumbly that I had a hard time cutting it into two layers. I ended up turning the cake upside down onto a plate with the bottom of the pan still attached to the cake, then cutting it horizontally in two layers. Next I took the bottom of the pan off, together with the top layer. This worked.

After filling the cake with the frosting, I put the cake together again. I could not match bottom and top layer exactly because the top layer would have fallen apart. The cake therefore looked quite lopsided. It was also so crumbly that I could not spread the frosting onto it without mixing lots of crumbs into the frosting.

Karottenkuchen Walnüsse 1

I also expected the caramelized nuts to be different, but was positively surprised by them.

Karottenkuchen Walnüsse 3

Initially I did not want to present this cake in my blog, but then I thought, why not? It might not look perfect, but the taste was good. I will certainly make it again, if only to find out how to make it turn out exactly the way I want it to be!

Ingredients:

Batter:
4 eggs
1 ¼ cup (225 g) brown sugar
10.7 oz (300 g) carrots, peeled and grated
2 ½ cups (250 g) ground walnuts
½ + ⅓ cups (120 g) chopped walnuts
Grated lemon peel of 1 organic lemon
juice from ½ lemon
½ cup (60 g) flour

2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 pinches salt

Cream Cheese Frosting:
14.3 oz. (400 g) cream cheese, lactose-free
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 ⅔ cups (160 g) powdered sugar, sieved

Caramelized walnuts:
12 halved walnuts
1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. whipping cream

Grease a round baking pan and dust with flour.

Preheat the oven to 355° F (180° C).

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar with a kitchen machine or a hand mixer at maximum speed for at least 5 minutes until fluffy.

Fold in the grated carrots, then the ground and the chopped walnuts, the lemon juice and the lemon peel.

Gently fold in the flour mixture.

Pour the dough into the baking pan and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 270° F (130° C). Keep the door of the oven open a bit with a wooden spoon. Bake the cake for about 55 minutes, until it is browned. It will be done when a toothpick inserted in the center came out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
With the hand mixer, beat cream cheese, lemon juice and powdered sugar at medium speed.

Caramelized walnuts:
In a small pan, melt sugar and butter until the sugar has turned golden brown. Stir occasionally. Add the whipping cream. Be careful – the mixture might bubble up and splatter! Stir until all the lumps have dissolved and the caramel is smooth.

Add the twelve walnut halves to the caramel and stir until they are covered with caramel. Take the nuts out and individually place them onto a piece of tin foil. Pour or spoon the remaining caramel over them. Let the nuts cool down completely.

Finishing:
Horizontally cut the cake into two layers and fill with about one third of the Cream Cheese Frosting. Put the cake together and spread with the remaining frosting. Decorate with the caramelized walnuts.

For a quicker version, skip the frosting and the caramelized walnuts. Simply sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar instead and enjoy!

Adapted from:

Trish Deseine (2010), I Love Cake, München: AT Verlag.

Pecan Chocolate Pie

Cakes, Other, Recipes

I love pecans, only they are really hard to get in Austria. When a friend of mine flew to the United States last spring, I asked him to get me a big bag of pecans. He did! So this spring and summer I had a lot of fun trying different pecan-recipes.

I held on to the last pecans in that bag for a long time. They were just enough for one more recipe, and I simply could not decide upon one – there were too many recipes I still wanted to try. I also did not want to use up my entire supply of pecans. Where would I get more?

Well, last month I found an answer to that question: a local supermarket now has pecans! They are expensive, but at least they are available. I immediately bought a bag and am happy that I now know where to restock.

I used a part of those new pecans and the rest of the pecans I got in spring for this Pecan Chocolate Pie. I made the pie in spring for the first time and liked it very much. It has an intense chocolate- and pecan-aroma. There is also a special taste to the pie because of the golden syrup or the sugar beet syrup, which is what I used.Pekan Schoko Pie 2   Pekan Schoko Pie 1

The pie is just right for fall. It will warm you from the inside, and it will make you happy!

Ingredients:

Dough:
½ cup (110 g) soft butter
2 ¼ cup (225 g) flour
¾ cup (80 g) sugar
1 egg

Filling:
½ cup (110 g) soft butter

1 ¼ cup (225 g) fine brown sugar

⅓ cup (110 g) golden syrup or sugar beet syrup

3 eggs

A bit more than 1 cup (260 g) pecans, coarsely chopped

16 pecan-halves for decoration

½ cup (85 g) dark chocolate, lactose-free (Lindt 70%, Merci 72%), coarsely chopped

Pekan Schoko Pie 3

Grease a pie plate (the one I used is 11 inches) with butter.

Preheat the oven to 300° F (150° C).

With a handmixer, combine the soft butter and the flour until you get crumbs of about pea size.

Add sugar, then the egg, until the mixture forms a dough.

Place the dough onto a clean surface and knead it through once.

Lightly cover the surface with flour. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 14-inch circle, about 1/5 of an inch thick. Put the dough into the pie plate. (If the dough is very soft, roll it into a small disk first and put it into the fridge for about 30 minutes before rolling it into a circle.)

With a knife, cut off the excess dough so that you get a nice and tidy edge. Poke tiny holes into the dough with a fork.

Put the pie plate into the fridge and chill for 45 minutes.

Remove the pie plate from the fridge. Cover the dough with parchment paper or wax paper and fill the pie with pie weights. I keep a jar of chicken peas in my kitchen which I use for this purpose only.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool.

Put a baking sheet into the oven.

While the crust is cooling, prepare the filling:

In a small pot, melt butter, sugar and golden syrup at low heat. Remove from the oven and let the mixture cool a little.

Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl.

Add the butter-sugar mixture and combine until the mixture is smooth.

Spread chopped pecans and chopped chocolate in the pie crust.

Carefully pour the filling over the pecans and the chocolate. With my pie plate, the form will be filled to the brim. Decorate with the pecan halves.

Put the pie onto the hot baking sheet. This will allow the pie to bake evenly. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn the heat to 280° F (140° C) and bake for another 20 minutes. The pie will be a bit soft in the middle, but will firm up when cool.

If you feel like adding some more calories, enjoy the pie with whipped cream – delicious!

 Pekan Schoko Pie 4

Adapted from: the hummingbird bakery (2011): Süße Sünden, München: Dorling Kindersley.