Date and Oat Cookies

A few months back I bought a bag of medjool dates with plans to turn them into some sort of naturally sweetened dessert. I brought them home and placed them in my pantry where they have sat ever since. Occasionally I have thought, "I should do something with those dates" and then nothing would happen. Today I decided was finally the day to pull those dates out and make use of them. I decided on a cookie. There are about a million options out there for date cookies, so I just picked one and went for it. I made a few alterations along the way, but ended up with a sweet and flavorful cookie filled with wholesome ingredients that I can at least try to convince myself is a little healthier than the norm! 

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To suit my own preferences I made a few changes which included substituting almonds for pecans, olive oil for walnut oil, and omitted the honey which in my opinion is just added even more sugar to an already sweet cookie. I added a little milk to make up a little extra liquid. All these changes seemed to work out very well. I'm excited for snack time!

 
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Date and Oat Cookies
Adapted from Dishing Up the Dirt
Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) oat flour
  • 3/4 cup (60 grams) old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup (180 grams) Medjool dates, pitted- about 10 dates
  • 3 tablespoons (40 grams) olive oil
  • 1/4 c (55 grams) milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine the oat flour, rolled oats, cardamom and salt.

In a food processor grind the almonds, dates, olive oil, milk, egg and vanilla until a smooth ball of dough is formed.

Combine the date mixture with the oat mixture and mix everything together until well combined, adding in the chocolate chunks as things start to come together. Cover the bowl with a towel and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.

When ready, remove the dough from the fridge, form dough balls (about 50 grams each) and then lightly flatten the tops with the back of a spoon. The cookies wont spread while baking so you can keep them fairly close to each other on the baking sheet. Bake until the bottoms are lightly brown but the cookies are still soft in the middle, about 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Yields: 12 cookies (approximately 205 calories each)

Pistachio and Lavender Olive Oil Biscotti

Coffee time and biscotti is one of my favorite combinations. I'm a huge biscotti fan as you could maybe tell if you've looked around this blog at all. These crunchy little sweet treats are perfect for dipping into a hot cup of coffee. It had been a while since I'd made biscotti, so last week I decided it was past time. I have a favorite biscotti recipe that I've made several times in the past, but I decided to try something different. While most biscotti are made with butter, this time I wanted to experiment with an olive oil biscotti instead. I did a little Googling and found a recipe that looked promising and went for it. The verdict - delicious! This recipe delivered a tender and crisp cookie, light and airy , not hard and crunchy at all. They almost had the lightness that fried food often has, which makes sense as they are full of olive oil!

I always like to put some add-ins in my biscotti. Since I've been on a lavender kick lately I decided to throw in a little lavender, fitting for the spring season, and also some yummy pistachios. I would have like more pistachios, but had to work with what I had. It was a delicious combination and made a delicious cookie! The flavor of the olive oil definitely comes through which I really enjoyed. If you're not sure how you will like this I'd recommend starting with a lighter, fruitier olive oil.

I will definitely be making these again. I'm even interested in maybe trying this recipe out as a savory biscotti, something that might be good for a cheese board, or charcuterie board. A twist on the typical cracker/bread/crostini. Definitely a fun future project!

 
 

Pistachio and Lavender Olive Oil Biscotti
Adapted from Ciao Chow Linda
Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking power and salt. Set aside. 

In another mixing bowl, place the egg, sugar, olive oil, and lavender, and mix for one minute until well blended. Add the flour mixture and pistachios and mix until all the ingredients are well blended.

Shape the dough into a long rectangle on a parchment-lined baking sheet. The dough may be a little wet but do your best shape it into a smooth log. Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes, and slice into individual biscotti. Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees and place the biscotti back on the parchment-lined baking sheet for another 15 minutes, until crisp and dry all the way through. Keep a close eye on them the last five minutes to make sure they don't burn. 
 

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

School is out! And that means one thing - it's Christmas cookie time! I love holiday baking and now that I am free for 2 weeks it is time to fire up the oven and get the cookie party started! This year is bittersweet to me because it is my last official "Christmas break". I think I may cry a small tear. I know, most people don't get a Christmas break until they're 28 but when you're in school for forever you have to find small victories once in a while! So I'm going to revel in this last official break and enjoy every minute of it. 

I've made a few batches of cookies this weekend and the first one I want to share is this cranberry pistachio biscotti. If you take a look around my blog you might notice that I have quite a few biscotti recipes, I just love the stuff. It's so easy and delicious, and something a little different from the norm. The instant I saw this festive biscotti pop up I knew it was on the list for 2015. I wasn't disappointed, and I don't think you will be either. So grab you own mixer and start baking!

This was a new recipe for me, which always makes me just a little bit nervous. You never quite know how much biscotti is going to spread. But there was no need to worry here, the cookies baked up beautifully. My only disappointment was not having quite enough pistachios to fold in. I threw in what I had and just made the best of it, but if you can, try to get the entire 3/4 cup mixed in. It just adds even more to the festiveness of this deliciously crunchy cookie. 

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/4 cups (280g) all-purpose flour 
  • 1 cup (200g) packed brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable or olive oil 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (75g) pistachios
  • 3/4 cup (120g) dried cranberries
  • Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl until combined. Add in the cold butter and mix until mixture is crumbly. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, and vanilla together. Pour into the flour/butter mixture and mix until everything is just barely moistened. Fold in the pistachios and dried cranberries.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and with floured hands, knead lightly until the dough is soft and slightly sticky, about 8-10 times. If it's uncontrollably sticky, knead 1-2 more Tablespoon(s) of flour into the dough. With floured hands, divide the dough in two and place each half onto a baking sheet. Shape each half into an 8-9 inch long roll, patting down until each is about 1/2 inch thick. 

Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the top and sides of each biscotti slab with egg wash.

Bake in batches (or together) for 25-26 minutes, or until the top and sides of the biscotti slabs are lightly browned. Remove from the oven, but do not turn off the heat. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. 

Once the slabs are cool enough to handle, cut each into 1 inch thick slices. Set slices cut sides upright, ¼ inch apart, on the baking sheets. Return to the oven to continue baking for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once while baking. The cookies may be slightly soft in the centers with harder edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. As the biscotti cools, it becomes crunchy. 

American Style Vanilla Biscotti

I've found myself making a lot of biscotti lately. I just can't seem to sit down with a cup of coffee without wanting something small and sweet to snack on and biscotti are the perfect way for me to fix this problem. They are easy to make, usually make a large batch, and can be shaped into whatever size you might want. For the last couple of rounds of biscotti making I've been playing around with different variations on this recipe from King Arthur Flour. They call it American style biscotti because it is not quite as rock hard as some of the traditional Italian biscotti recipes. These cookies bake up crisp and light, crunchy without being teeth shattering. I think they have the perfect balance of crunchy sweetness to go alongside my cup of afternoon coffee. And the great thing about biscotti is they last for several weeks in an airtight container on you counter or in the cupboard. That means not having to worry about running out anytime soon or having them go bad. It is the perfect way to ensure you always have a sweet treat around for snacking on for those moments when you just need a little something to get yourself through the afternoon. 

These cookies are wonderful just straight up and plain, but for this batch I decided to go with a little drizzle of chocolate for a little added visual interests and of course to boost the flavor up just one more notch. This is a great recipe to use as a starting point for any number of wonderful combinations you might want to try. I've made several other batches that might make an appearance on the blog in the future. Really any dried fruit, any type of chocolate, or any nut/seed would make a wonderful add in. You can't go wrong so let your imagination go wild and give this recipe try. 

American Style Vanilla Biscotti

From 

King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) one large (about 18" x 13") baking sheet.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, almond extract (if you're using it), and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Beat in the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled. At low speed of your mixer, add the flour, stirring until smooth; the dough will be sticky.

Plop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Divide it in half, and shape it into two 9 1/2" x 2" logs, about 3/4" tall. Straighten the logs, and smooth their tops and sides; a wet spatula or wet bowl scraper works well here. Sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired, pressing it in gently.

Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven.

Using a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water, lightly but thoroughly spritz the logs, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust just this little bit will make slicing the biscotti much easier. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Wait 5 minutes, then use a sharp chef's knife or serrated knife to cut the log crosswise into 1/2" to 3/4" slices. Or cut the biscotti on the diagonal, for fewer, longer biscotti. As you're slicing, be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan; if you cut unevenly, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they'll topple over during their second bake.

Set the biscotti on edge on the prepared baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven, and bake them for 25 to 30 minutes, until they feel very dry and are beginning to turn golden. They'll still feel a tiny bit moist in the very center, if you break off a piece; but they'll continue to dry out as they cool.

Remove the biscotti from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool. Store airtight at room temperature; they'll stay good for weeks.

Yield: 30 to 40 biscotti, depending on size.

Crackly Sugar Cookies

The simple sugar cookie: so simple, so basic, and so delicious.  Whether thin and crispy, thick, and chewy, or soft and tender, all are delicious in their own way. While I do love pretty much every sugar cookie there is, I am partial to the thick and chewy sort, but for whatever reason I have found it difficult to find the perfect recipe for this style sugar cookie. Every recipe I try seems to turn out more of a thin crispy cookie, still buttery and delicious, but missing that substantial chew that I am looking for. 

Thankfully, I recently stumbled across this recipe which has produced the best cookie yet! They are pretty thick (maybe not yet quite as thick as I'd like, but I can work on fixing that) and nice and chewy. With a nice crackly top that is covered in sugar they are a winner. I made them pretty big to ensure a nice soft and chewy center and a slightly crisp edge which was wonderful, but I'm sure a little smaller cookie would be just as delicious. With a base of butter, sugar and flour there is no way they couldn't be!

I baked up one batch of these cookies pretty quickly after I had made the dough because I needed them right away and they turned out very nice. The rest of the dough I put in the fridge to chill a little while and then baked them. This definitely helped the cookies stay a little thicker and even chewier, so if you have the time I would recommend chilling the dough before baking. But either way, if you're looking for a thick, chewy and delicious sugar cookie, look no further, this is it!

Crackly Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Chow.com
Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup sugar (sanding or granulated) for rolling cookies

Directions
Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Combine butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl sides and bottom. Add yolks and vanilla, and mix on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Add flour, baking soda, salt, corn starch and cream of tartar. Mix on low speed until dough comes together. Scoop dough by rounded tablespoons and roll between your hands until smooth.

Roll dough in sanding or granulated sugar to coat and place on parchment-paper-lined baking sheets. Bake cookies until they are golden brown around the edges but still soft in the center, about 16- 18 minutes. Immediately transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Yields: 9 very large (100 gram) cookies, approximately 455 calories each or 18 more average sized cookies, approximately 230 calories each

Christmas Cookies 2014

Merry Christmas! Once again this year Lara and I had way too much fun in the kitchen baking Christmas cookies and lots of other goodies to share with friends and family members. It has been a blast, and I am sad that it is now over for another year. But that's okay, I can always look back on my photos and remember the good times. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, however you celebrate, and a blessed New Year!

The traditional rolled sugar cookies made their yearly appearance, decorated solely by Lara, I can't claim to have had anything to do with those. Gingerbread men are my favorite so they also joined the fun. I also made some mini almond pound cakes for another option this year using a pan my sister-in-law gave me a little while back. I am pleased with how it all turned out.

I brought a tray of cookies to my families Christmas party, and then made bags of cookies for friends, as well as boxes to hand out to the neighbors. Both Lara and I had so much fun with the whole process as we do every year. Now off to celebrate Christmas!

Chocolate Cocoa Nib Biscotti

It's time for another biscotti recipe. One of my favorite baked goods to make. I love the transformation from long, flat log of dough, into cute, crunchy little cookies. It amazes me every time. I also love how long they last in an airtight container in my cupboard. This is one of the few baked goods I make that I don't freeze right away. Because they are completely dried out they don't really go stale or lose their texture, at least not very fast anyway. 

This chocolate cocoa nib biscotti turned out perfectly. I decided to add a few cocoa nibs to the dough and I loved the combination with the chocolate chips. The cocoa nibs add a different flavor and texture to the cookie that really help them stand out. A hint of espresso powder in the dough complements the chocolate and brings all the flavors together into a perfectly balanced treat.

Don't worry if you don't have any cocoa nibs, the biscotti will still be wonderful without them, but if you happen to have some on hand I highly suggest the addition. The same with the espresso powder. You can really add whatever flavors you have on hand. Be creative and do what you like. Don't have espresso powder, how about some cinnamon instead, for that chocolate-spice mix? Have an orange lying in your fridge? Zest it up and throw it in for a wonderful chocolate orange combo. How about swapping out some or all of the chocolate for some dried fruit, or some chopped nuts, or both! Let your imagination go wild!

Chocolate Cocoa Nib Biscotti

Adapted from 

Deliciously Declassified

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (4 1/2 ounces) brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour 
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso 
  • 1/2-3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1-2 tablespoons cocoa nibs 
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and espresso, set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time followed by the vanilla, mixing well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixer in two parts, mixing until just combined after each addition. 

Mix in the the chocolate chips and cocoa nibs, if using. 

Split the dough in half, and shape each half into a long log, about 1 1/2 inches wide on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, leaving a little room between each log. Sprinkle the top of each log with turbinado sugar. 

Bake the cookies at 350°F for 25 minutes, until a light golden color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, reduce the oven temp t o 300°F

After the 30 minutes, slice the biscotti to your desired thickness (I got about 25 cookies) and arrange the slices on the parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for an additional 35-45 minutes, until biscotti are completely dried through. Cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container. 

Chocolate Espresso Biscotti

Anyone that knows me well knows that I love going out for coffee. Sitting at a warm, cozy coffee shop with a comforting cup of coffee, talking with family members or friends about nothing at all is so relaxing and enjoyable. Most of the time I just stick with my mug of coffee and call it good, but I have to admit, I always want something to go with it. A muffin, a pastry, a chocolate chip cookie, anything at all really. It's so nice to have something sweet to balance out that cup of coffee. Biscotti is another great option that sometimes fits the bill perfectly. Crunchy, slightly sweet and just the right size. It's also fun to make at home, pretty easy to throw together and lasts forever in the cupboard because it is dried out to begin with. This chocolate espresso biscotti is one of my favorites, and it really is the perfect companion to your morning coffee.

 I've made a few different biscotti recipes now, and this one is pretty close to the top. The texture is perfect, it's crunchy, but not so hard that you feel like you are going to crack your teeth on it. I love the slightly bitter espresso flavor that is balanced out by the bittersweet chocolate, it's a perfect combination.

Chocolate Espresso Biscotti

Adapted from 

Sage Recipes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (If using regular size, chop coarsely)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325ºF and line 1 sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, dissolve the instant espresso powder with 1 tablespoon hot water. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the espresso flavoring and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Mix in the chocolate chips  until just incorporated.

Divide the dough into 3 equal portions and form each portion into a log (~1 1/2 inches thick). Do not flatten the logs (the dough will be sticky). Place the logs onto the sheet pan, a few inches apart from each other. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Turn the oven down to 275ºF. Transfer logs to a clean cutting board. Using a serrated knife, slice the logs diagonally, 1/2 inch thick. Discard the end pieces (or munch on them like I did). Place the cookies cut side down on the sheet pan and bake for another 45 minutes, until toasted and dry.