Sunday, February 7, 2016

Mint Chocolate Hearts


Here's a Happy Valentine's Day mash up between a thin mint and an Oreo. You're welcome. And you don't even have to take it all the way. You can stop at just a cut out heart dipped in minty dark chocolate. Fill the hearts with a minty, buttery center and leave them naked. Or go the whole nine. However far you take them you will love them. It's all about the love, people!

mint chocolate hearts

cookie

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 & 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup dark cocoa

filling

6 tablespoons soft butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
1 tablespoon light cream (or enough to achieve a spreadable consistency)

coating

12 ounces dark chocolate, broken or cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon mint extract 

In a stand mixer beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add egg and vanilla extract: beat well, scraping the bowl as necessary. Whisk together flour, baking powder and cocoa. Add to butter mixer and blend on low until dough forms.  Wrap dough and chill for at least one hour or over night.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut dough in half. Roll each half to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out cookies using a 2&1/2 inch heart shape cutter. Dough scraps can be re-rolled two times. Place cookies on parchment lined baking sheets 1/2 inch apart. Bake for about 10 minutes. (Do not over bake, it's hard to tell if cookies are getting burned because they are so dark to begin with.)

Cool cookies completely on a wire rack before filling.

For the filling: Beat butter and confectioners' sugar together until light and fluffy. Add mint extract and beat to combine. Spread about 1/2 teaspoon on the half the cookies and top with another cookie.

For the coating: Place chocolate, vegetable oil and mint extract in a small, deep bowl on top of a pot of water. Bring the water to a slow simmer and let the chocolate melt. When most of the chocolate seems melted stir it to complete melting. Remove carefully from the water pot and set aside to cool slightly.

Working with a fork, dip each cookie in the chocolate and carefully turn it over to coat. Remove any excess chocolate with a small offset spatula. Place dipped cookies on a wire rack to dry thoroughly.  Makes about 18 cookies.





 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

African Peanut Stew



Here's a dish that's as flavorful as it is colorful, and we all know it's most healthy to eat by colors.  Usually you see African peanut soup (or stew) with chicken in it. That's all well and good but I find this dish can stand on it's own. Carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes- who needs chicken. Not to mention, the peanut butter (legume) and rice (a grain) make for a complete protein!

African peanut stew

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 & 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and choppped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
8 ounces crushed tomatoes
3 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 cups cooked rice (brown or white)
cilantro for garnish
peanuts for garnish 

In a large pot heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots, red pepper, sweet potato, garlic, cumin and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 10-15 minutes.

Add stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat add grated ginger and simmer until carrots and sweet potato are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in peanut butter. Serve over cooked rice with a garnish of chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts. Makes 4-6 servings.




Friday, January 1, 2016

Sourdough Holiday Wreath


This post is either really early for next Christmas or way late for this past one. I just hope it's not too late for the very last ever Sourdough Surprises! It's not easy saying good-bye to this group. A great group of women (an maybe one man) who I've so enjoyed baking along with for the last 3 years. I had to eat a lot of this bread just to try and get over it!

The last challenge was a Holiday themed one. I googled around and saw some Holiday wreath shaped breads which I thought would be perfect. I worked up a formula and as always I used yeast in my recipe along with a cup of freshly fed and tangy starter. This makes enough for two wreaths, or you could cheat like I did and make one ring and a small batch of cinnamon buns. I had to eat a lot of those as well.   

sourdough holiday wreath

filling
 2 cups dried fruit
1 cup apple sauce
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1 teaspoons cinnamon
 
dough
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 ounce yeast
1 cup sourdough starter
2 eggs (plus one for brushing)
1 yolk
3 & 1/2 - 4 cups white whole wheat flour
6 tablespoon soft butter

icing
4 ounces cream cheese
2 cups confectioners sugar
multicolored jimmies

For the filling: combine all ingredients in a large bowl, cover and set aside.

For the dough: in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook combine milk, sugar, yeast and starter and let sit for 5 minutes. Add eggs, yolks and 3 cups of flour; mix on medium speed to form dough. Add more flour if needed, dough should just a little sticky. On medium speed add soft butter a little bit at a time. 

Turn dough out on lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Transfer dough to a buttered bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours. (Or overnight in the refrigerator.) 

Punch down dough and divide in half. Roll each half into an 18 by 9 inch rectangle. Spread each with half the filling. Starting at the long end roll the dough up and transfer to parchment lined baking sheet. Form into a ring and seal the ends together. Cut around the edges with a scissors about 2/3 of the way into the ring. Turn each section on it's side. Cover and let rise 1 to 1 &1/2 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden.  Cool on racks. Beat cream cheese and confectioners sugar and spread on cooled rings. Decorate with jimmies.