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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Chocolate Mousse Cake

Cakes, Recipes

Moist marzipan-chocolate cake, fluffy chocolate mousse, crisp chocolate shavings – sounds tempting, doesn´t it? If I see such a cake in a store or a café, I´ll have to pass. These cakes are extremely rich in lactose and simply not good for me.

I do not have to deny myself those treats, though. The recipe for this Chocolate-Mousse-Cake is from “Traumhafte Torten” by Adolf Anderson. Adapting it in such a way that the cake is lactose-free is really easy. Instead of normal cream, I use lactose-free cream, and instead of normal dark chocolate, I use lactose-free dark chocolate. And that´s it.

Schoko Mousse Torte 7

The combination of moist, fluffy and crisp is absolutely convincing, especially if you enjoy all three layers in one bite. Crisp and smooth at the same time. Maybe a bit rich, but well. Sometimes we have to treat ourselves, don´t we?

Schoko Mousse Torte 3

Schoko Mousse 4

Schoko Mousse Torte 2

Ingredients:

Cake:
5.7 oz (160 g) marzipan paste
⅓ cup (80 g) sugar
3 eggs
⅓ cup (40 g) plain flour
⅓ cup (35 g) unsweetened cocoa
1.4 oz (40 g) butter
1.4 oz (40 g) good-quality dark chocolate, lactose-free (e.g. Lindt 70%, Merci 72%)

Chocolate mousse:
3 ⅛ cups (750 ml) whipping cream
9 oz (250 g) good-quality dark chocolate, lactose-free (e.g. Lindt 70%, Merci 72%)

Topping:
3.5 oz (100 g) good-quality dark chocolate, lactose-free (e.g. Lindt 70%, Merci 72%)

Preparation:
Prepare two sheets of baking parchment: With a pen or a pencil draw a circle of 8 inches on the first sheet, a circle of 10 inches on the second sheet. This is easiest done by using an adjustable cake ring: Adjust the cake ring to the appropriate size, then follow the outline with a pen or pencil.

Flip the baking parchment over so that the marks are on the bottom side. This way the batter will not touch the pencil- or pen-mark. Put the baking parchment onto two baking sheets.

Preheat the oven to 320° F (160° C) if you have a convection oven, to 170° C (340° F) if you have a conventional oven.

Chop the chocolate into small pieces. In a small pot, melt the butter at low heat. Add the chopped chocolate and dissolve it in the butter.

Sieve flour and cocoa into a small bowl.

Cut the marzipan paste into small pieces. Put the marzipan pieces into a mixing bowl and add 1.4 oz (40 g; about 3 tbsp.) sugar. With the kitchen machine or a hand mixer, beat at low to medium speed until the mixture is crumbly. Gradually add two eggs. Beat until the mixture is smooth.

In a second mixing bowl, beat the third egg with 1.4 oz (40 g) sugar with the kitchen machine or a hand mixer until fluffy.

Add the marzipan-mixture to the egg-mixture and thoroughly beat with the kitchen machine or the hand mixer.

Carefully fold in the cocoa-flour-mixture, then stir in the melted chocolate-butter mixture. I used a whisk for this.

Spread the batter onto the baking parchment in the circular shapes you drew on the parchment. The batter will be thin, about one third of an inch. Distribute the batter between the two circles so that both circles are equally thin (or thick, whichever you prefer). I just estimated how much batter I would need for each circle; this worked well.

Bake the cakes for 15-20 minutes. Check frequently; they should not get dark. Remove from the oven and let them cool.

Chocolate Mousse:
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put the pieces into a mixing bowl. In a small pot, bring 1 ⅛ cup (250 ml) whipping cream to a boil. Pour one third of the cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Pour the second third over the chocolate, stir again. Pour the last third over the chocolate and stir until the mixture is completely smooth. Let the mixture cool until it feels lukewarm or even slightly cold on your lips.

With the kitchen machine or hand mixer, beat the remaining whipping cream (2 cups) until fluffy and creamy (not stiff). Whisk three tablespoons of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, then carefully fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Put the larger cake into the cake ring or an appropriate cake pan. Pour half of the chocolate mousse onto the cake and spread evenly. Put the smaller cake onto the chocolate mousse. Pour the remaining chocolate mousse into the cake ring and spread evenly.

Let the cake cool for about two hours.

For the topping, chop the chocolate and melt it in a double boiler or on the oven at very low heat. Spread the liquid chocolate onto an even surface, e.g. a marble slab or a baking sheet (I used the latter). Let the chocolate cool at room temperature.

When the chocolate is firm but not totally hard, shave off chocolate shavings with a metal spatula. I used a cheese slicer for this, the only instrument with a sharp edge I found in the house.

Take off the cake ring or cake pan. Liberally decorate the Chocolate Mousse Cake with the chocolate shavings. Enjoy!

Schoko Mousse Torte 5

Chocolate Shock Cookies

Cookies, Recipes

A friend of mine is a baker. He likes to experiment – in his shop you will at times find goodies like chocolate with extra-hot chili (he grows the chili himself!) or cookies with lavender. For his birthday, I will give him these cookies, with the recipe attached – maybe he will like them and sell them in his store!

Schoko Schock 4

Schoko Schock 5

Schoko Schock 6

The original recipe uses white chocolate, which contains lactose. I wanted to make a lactose-free version for myself, so I produced a second batch in which I replaced the white chocolate with chopped walnuts. I must admit that I like this version better than the one with white chocolate. The walnuts go extremely well with the dark chocolate batter!

Schoko Schock 3

The cookies did not turn out as pretty as I had hoped, so I initially did not want to publish the recipe on my blog. Only when I realized that the kids kept walking into the kitchen to get another cookie, I tried one – and changed my opinion. The cookies are not too sweet and have an intense and smooth chocolaty taste. They are just the way a rich chocolate cookie should be, even if they do not look perfect!

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups (300 g) flour
1 ⅓ cup (100 g) unsweetened cocoa (sieved)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup / 4 sticks (250 g) butter, room temperature
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 tbsp. sugar beet syrup
1 tsp. vanilla sugar (not vanillin)
2 large eggs, room temperature

Version 1 (= containing lactose):
1 cup (150 g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (150 g) white chocolate, coarsely chopped
Decoration:
⅓ cup (50 g) white chocolate

Version 2 (= lactose-free)
1 cup (150 g) dark chocolate, lactose-free, coarsely chopped
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. (150 g) walnuts, coarsely chopped
Decoration:
⅓ cup (50 g) milk chocolate, lactose-free

Preheat the oven to 375 ° F (190° C) (convection oven: 355° F,180° C). Cover baking sheets with baking parchment.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In another mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and syrup with a handmixer or kitchen machine until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla sugar and beat for another three minutes.

Add the flour-cocoa-mixture. Beat it into the batter with the hand mixer/kitchen machine at low speed or with a wooden spoon. The batter will be quite heavy and firm.

Version 1 (= containing lactose): Add the chopped chocolate and stir into the batter with a wooden spoon.

Version 2 (= lactose-free): Add the chopped chocolate and the chopped walnuts and stir into the batter with a wooden spoon.

Drop tablespoons of batter onto the baking sheets and bake for about 10-13 minutes. Keep your eye on the cookies – they get burnt at the edges fast! Rather take them out of the oven a little early than keep them in the oven too long. They will firm up when they cool.

Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and let them cool.

Decoration:
Place the cookies side by side on a cooling rack, a baking sheet or baking parchment. If you use a cooling rack, place baking parchment beneath it – it will make tidying up the working surface a lot easier!

For the glazing, coarsely chop while chocolate (version 1) or lactose-free milk chocolate (version 2). Melt in a double boiler or on the stove at very low heat. Put the melted chocolate into a small plastic bag and cut off an edge. You now have a self-made icing bag.

Decorate the cookies with the glazing by moving the icing bag over the cookies diagonally.

Schoko Schock Cookies 1

Makes about 30 large cookies.

 

Adapted from: Cynthia Barcomi´s Backbuch (2007), München: Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag.

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

Nussecken 6

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.

Nussecken 5

Keep in an airtight cookie tin.

Gingerbread with Jam and Marzipan Filling

Off Limits, Recipes

In Austria, in the time before Christmas you will sometimes find Filled Gingerbread in certain bakeries. Filled Gingerbread is usually rather about 2 ½ to 4 inches big and at least an inch thick. Depending on the bakery, there are lots of variations. They might be filled with nougat, marzipan, nuts or jam, glazed with chocolate or sugar frosting, and decorated with nuts or candied fruit.

I love Filled Gingerbread. It is really good, and very rich. Whenever we buy some, we usually cut it into small pieces and have it for dessert.

About two weeks ago I saw Filled Gingerbread in a traditional bakery in Linz. I did not buy any, and unfortunately I did not even take a picture. It looked delicious, but was quite expensive. I let myself be inspired and decided to create my own Filled Gingerbread.

Preparing the dough was simple and fast. I then used my cookie cutters for about one third of the dough and was very happy about my gingerbread-trees, the bears, hearts, stars, roosters and ducks.

Gefüllte Lebkuchen 1

With the remaining two thirds of the dough I played around. I cut out various shapes and decorated them with almonds and nuts. I filled the baked gingerbread generously with raspberry or cranberry jam and with marzipan, then I dipped the edges into chocolate glazing. What can I say. Delicious.

Gefüllte Lebkuchen 2

I am thinking about making more of this gingerbread. I can imagine that rosehip jam or orange marmalade and marzipan would make a great filling, or orange jam and nougat. And coconut flakes on the chocolate glazing, or chopped nuts. There are many combinations I can think of!

Unfortunately, if you have fructose-intolerance, gingerbread is not ideal as it contains a lot of honey – therefore I listed this recipe in the category “Off Limits”. I usually avoid honey, but still made this gingerbread with honey and not with rice syrup, as the honey is essential for the taste of the gingerbread. At least my Filled Gingerbread is lactose-free when it comes to filling and glazing. I can therefore eat small amounts of it.

Gefüllte Lebkuchen 4

Ingredients:

Dough:
4¼ cups (500 g) wheat flour
2 cups (250 g) rye flour
¾ oz. (20 g) baking soda
1 cup (300 g) honey
1 cup (200 g) fine sugar
1 egg
2 egg yolks
7.2 oz. (200 g) soft butter
grated lemon peel from ½ lemon
1 tbsp. vanilla sugar (not vanillin)
1 package gingerbread spices (or: 3 g ground cinnamon, 2 g ground cloves, 1 g ground ginger, 2 g grated lemon peel)
Milk for brushing the gingerbread
Almonds (peeled), walnuts for decorating

Filling (sufficient for ⅔ of the dough):
7 oz. (200 g marzipan paste
Powdered sugar (for rolling out the marzipan paste)
Raspberry jam or cranberry jam

Glazing (sufficient for ⅔ of the dough):
7.2 oz. (200 g) dark chocolate, lactose-free (Lindt 70%, Merci 72%)
¼ cup (50 g) butter

Preheat the oven to 355° F (180° C). Cover baking sheets with baking paper.

Combine wheat flour, rye flour and baking soda in a big mixing bowl.

In a small pot, warm honey and sugar over low heat. Stir until well combined.

With a strong kitchen machine and a dough hook, knead flour mixture, egg, egg yolks, butter, grated lemon peel, vanilla sugar and gingerbread spices to a firm dough. You can also do this by hand, but be warned – kneading this dough will be quite a bit of work! Leave the dough in the fridge or in a cool place for at least three hours.

Lightly knead the dough through again. Cover the worktop with flour. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is about 1/3 of an inch thick.

With a cookie cutter, cut out any shapes you want. Decorate with almonds and/or walnuts, brush with milk and bake for 10-15 minutes until light brown.

Gefüllte Lebkuchen 5

Use the remaining two thirds of the dough for the Filled Gingerbread: either use big cookie cutters, or cut out squares of a bit more than two inches. Decorate the gingerbread you want to use for the top parts with almonds or nuts. Do not decorate the bottom parts. Brush with milk and bake for 10-15 minutes. Let the gingerbread cool.

Cover the worktop with powdered sugar and roll the marzipan into a thin plate of about 1/16th of an inch. Cut the marzipan paste into the same shapes as the gingerbread. You will need one piece of marzipan for two pieces of gingerbread. The marzipan will go in the middle.

Gefüllte Lebkuchen 6

Now fill the gingerbread: take a bottom part and thickly spread it with jam. Place a piece of marzipan paste onto the jam. Take a top part and spread the bottom side with jam. Put both parts together. The gingerbread with filling now consists of a bottom part, jam, marzipan paste, jam, and a top part.

Prepare the chocolate glazing: coarsely chop the chocolate. Cut the butter into small cubes. Melt in a small pot over low heat.

Dip the edges of the Filled Gingerbread into the chocolate glazing. Let it cool on a cooling rack.

Gefüllte Lebkuchen 3

If you want to make filled gingerbread with all the dough, use 10.7 oz (300 g) marzipan paste for the filling, and 10.7 oz. ( 300 g) chocolate and ⅓ cup (75 g) butter for the chocolate glazing.

Dough adapted from: Gasteiger, H., Wieser, G., Bachmann, H. (2008, 12. Auflage). So kocht Südtirol. Bozen: Athesia AG.