Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti


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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

What are your thoughts on raisins?  Many people have strong feelings about them and either love or hate them, kind of like nuts and coconut.  As a kid, I wanted to like the Sun-maid Raisins we had in the pantry.  Those little boxes with the rosy-cheeked lass holding a big basket of green grapes were appealing to me, for some reason.  At that time, and for a long time thereafter, I was firmly in the “I do not like raisins camp.”  I wasn’t a fan of grapes either.  They, and the grapes from which they came, were too sweet {Never mind that I could eat chocolate frosting & brownie batter like nobody’s business…that’s a different story!}.  Years later, I discovered organic Red Flame grapes, and I thought they were pretty good, and even enjoyed the raisins produced from them.  They were still too sweet to eat on their own, but I enjoyed them with some nuts {and a bit of dark chocolate}.

Even though I learned to like raisins, I only wanted them in certain dishes.  Raisins were great in Hot Peanut Cereal, bread pudding and as a curry condiment, but definitely not in oatmeal cookies for sure.  Nope, not in my cookies.  Until now.  What’s different now?  I’m not certain, but I think it’s a combination of the ingredients I’m using and baking the cookies long enough for some caramelization to occur.  The coconut sugar, along with some brown sugar lends a caramel flavor, and the proper baking time adds to that flavor, as well as some crispness.  The cookies are delicious anytime {even right out of the freezer}, but are their very best the same day they are made {the same as my chocolate chip cookies}.  Freshly baked and cooled, they are a little chewy in the center, and a little crispy around the edges…cookie perfection.

Plate of oatmeal cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
adapted from The Best Recipe {Cooks Illustrated}

180 gm whole wheat pastry flour {1 1/2 cups}

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/2 pound {2 sticks} unsalted butter, softened

4 3/4 oz. light brown sugar {2/3 cup – 1 tbsp}

1 1/2 oz. granulated white sugar {2 tbsp – 2 tsp}

2 1/2 oz. blonde coconut sugar {1/2 cup + 2 tsp}

2 large eggs

10 1/2 oz. rolled oats-not instant {1 1/2 cups}

5 1/2 oz. raisins {1 1/2 cups}

6 oz. walnuts

Crunchy salt {Maldon or Fleur de Sel} for sprinkling on top before baking {not iodized table salt}

Place oven racks at the 2 center positions & preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, nutmeg & cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy.  Add sugars & beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs one at a time.

Stir dry ingredients into butter-sugar mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.  Stir in oats, raisins & walnuts.

Chill dough for at least 15″ and up to 2 days.

Roll dough into 1 1/2 oz. balls {about golf ball size} & place 2 inches apart on lined cookie sheets.  Flatten cookies slightly with a fork, using a criss-cross motion as you would for peanut butter cookies.  You can use your hand or the bottom of a flat drinking glass.  Sprinkle generously with crunchy salt of choice.

Bake cookies for 16-20 minutes, or until they are golden brown around the edges, and the bottoms are dark brown .  Halfway through baking {8 minutes}, turn cookie sheets from back to front, and switch oven racks.

Cookies on plate including bottom

Makes about 30 cookies

Notes:

  • These cookies are best when the bottoms are dark brown, and perhaps even a little glossy.
  • You can freeze shaped cookies to bake later, adding a little extra time if you bake them while frozen.  I usually like to let them thaw out before baking, although you can bake them frozen.

Cookies are really good with lattes!  Latte

Bon appetit!

 

 

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Molasses Cookies with Orange & Fresh Ginger

Several days ago, I shared with you my favorite cheesecake recipe, and said that I would share this cookie recipe with you once I had finished tweaking the ingredients.  Well, I am finished.  I love molasses, and have seen many recipes for molasses cookies, and have tasted a few, but I have not found one that I like better than this recipe.  My recipe uses oil instead of butter or shortening, and perhaps using oil allows the molasses flavor to shine.  That is my hypothesis anyway.  The changes I made to the original recipe were few, but key.  I reduced the sugar, changed the flour to whole wheat pastry flour {instead of all purpose}, added fresh ginger and fresh orange zest.  That’s it!  Without further adieu, here is the recipe for these dark cinnamon-hued, perfectly round and delicious cookies.

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 Molasses Cookies with Ginger & Orange

1 1/3 c canola or sunflower oil

1 c granulated sugar

1/4 c dark brown sugar

1/2 c molasses

2 large eggs

4 c/480 gm whole wheat pastry flour

4 heaping tsp cinnamon

4 tsp baking soda

5 tsp freshly grated ginger {powdered ginger not a substitute}

5 tsp freshly grated orange peel {from 2 large oranges}

1 tsp kosher salt

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper/silicon sheet or spray with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together.  In a large bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, eggs & molasses.  Stir dry ingredients into sugar mixture until thoroughly combined.  Roll into balls the size of walnuts {I make 3/4 oz. balls} & roll in granulated sugar.  Bake for 8-12 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet.

Notes:  

  • I always weigh my cookies, because making cookies the size of walnuts is subjective.
  • Even if your balls aren’t perfectly round before baking, and they usually aren’t, the cookies always bake up pretty perfectly round.  Unless they touch while baking, then you get a flat side.  No worries!
  • I use regular molasses {usually Grandma’s Unsulphured Original}.  I made the cookies with blackstrap molasses once, and wasn’t overly thrilled with them.  They weren’t bad, but I didn’t share them with anyone because I didn’t think they were as good as they could be.
  • If the dough seems too soft to shape into balls, chill for awhile in the refrigerator.
  • Some of the oil may separate out if the dough sits; this is not a problem, just stir it back in.
  • The range in baking time is wide because you can bake these cookies to be chewy or crispy, depending on how you like them.  I like them both ways!  If you want them crispy, leave them in for 11-12 minutes; the edges should be set and the centers brown & baked through.  For chewy cookies, bake just until the edges are set and the cookies look underdone in the center.  It’s amazing how much they brown and continue to bake while they cool on the cookie sheet.
  • These cookies freeze well.

Bon appetit!


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“These are decadent!”  a comment from one of my coworkers

It’s been a long day, so this will be a quick post.  I took these cookies to work today, & they were a hit.  These cookies are great if  you…

… are craving cookies.

… are craving chocolate or mocha.

… need a quick dessert to take to a potluck.

… want to surprise your friend with cookies.

… you had a light dinner and feel like a little dessert.

… you get the idea!

Close up of cookies

Mocha Truffle Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips {I use Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet}
3 tsp instant coffee {I use 2 packets Starbucks Via}
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
4 tbsp plus 4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup Heath Bits ‘o Brickle Toffee Bits
Maldon salt {optional, but a delicious addition}

In a large microwave safe bowl, melt butter & chocolate chips; stir until smooth, and then stir in coffee and stir until dissolved; let cool for 5 minutes.  Add sugars, eggs and vanilla.  Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; add to chocolate mixture and mix well.  Stir in toffee bits. 

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart {I prefer to weigh my cookie balls, making them 1 1/4 ounces each.} onto a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray, or lined with parchment or Silpat.  Sprinkle a pinch {2-3 flakes per cookie} of Maldon salt flakes on top of cookies.

Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are set.  Cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes about 24.

Notes:
~ To melt butter and chocolate chips, I microwave on 50% power for 1 minute, stir and then do another minute at 50% power.  Microwaves vary, so your timing may be different.
~ Add chopped nuts if you like.
~ You can adjust the coffee up or down to your taste.
~ Don’t overbake!  I take the cookies out of the oven when the edges are set {slightly firm}.  The middle will be soft {that’s where the “truffle” part comes in}.
~ You can freeze the cookies.  They are particularly delicious if you take them out of the freezer and wait for a couple of minutes before eating.  Their texture is dense, fudgy and GOOD!

Cookie close up

Bon appetit!

Nut Lovers Bars with Dark Chocolate & Coconut

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“There’s a rule in baking.  When you smell it, it’s done.  I don’t know about the science here.  But it’s a good indicator.  If you’re in the other room enjoying the nice smells of your cookies, you better get up and take them out!  ”   Frank Mentesana {Once Upon a Tart}

Nut Lovers Bars with Dark Chocolate & Coconut

My Nut Lovers Bars with Dark Chocolate and Coconut are great because. . .

  • they all bake at the same time.   No rotating of cookie sheets or baking multiple batches.
  • they are a layered cookie, and go together quickly.
  • several of the ingredients are heart healthy and/or what some consider superfoods {walnuts, almonds, pecans, dark chocolate and coconut.
  • they are deliciously crunchy, chewy & tasty at the same time.
  • they are visually beautiful!  The nuts sport a lacquered look when they come out of the oven.  Add a little pearl dust and they are even prettier!
  • people like it when you bring them to potlucks.

Seriously, if you like nuts and chocolate, you should bake these cookies.  They are gorgeous, scrumptious & easy to make.  What more could one want in a cookie?  The ingredients play nicely together so that even those who do not like coconut enjoy them.

Nut Lovers Bars with Dark Chocolate & Coconut

½ cup butter
1 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs {about 8 whole sheets}
2 cups chocolate chips {I use Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet}
1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut {flaked or shredded}
About 3 cups nuts {I use walnuts, pecans & almonds.  I break the walnuts & pecans, and cut the almonds into thirds.}
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put the butter in a 13”x9” pan and let it melt while the oven is preheating.  Mix graham cracker crumbs with the butter and press evenly in the pan.  It looks like you don’t have enough to go around the whole pan, but you do.  It isn’t a thick layer.

Sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips, coconut & nuts.  Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over everything.  I drizzle it going one direction and then drizzle it going the other direction until it’s all out of the can and onto the cookies.

Bake cookies for about 30” or until nuts are golden brown.  You want the cookies to have some golden color before you take them out; the toasty nuts is part of what makes them so delicious.  I like to brush them with edible pearl dust, but if you don’t have any handy, they will be just as good.

Closeup of Nut Lovers Bars with Dark Chocolate & Coconut

Around the Web. . .

This is totally cute!  Check out this video of Seattle chef Jesse Smith making naan bread with his adorable little girl Avalon.

Spilled Milk {a podcast about food-recipes, info with some humor thrown in}

Bon appetit!


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“Reach as high as you can, and then reach a little higher.  There you will find magic and possibility.  And maybe even cookies.”  Marc Johns

If you have ever landed at an airport in Hawaii, one of the first things you probably noticed while walking through the naturally air conditioned part of the airport, is the balmy air and the sweet scent of tropical blossoms.  I love that!

large jasmine treeI am fairly certain that this tree is responsible for the sweet scents of jasmine flowers wafting into our house.  Sometimes the fragrance floats in on gentle trade winds, and other times on blustery winds that are commonly felt {and heard} in Pukalani.  A little jasmine aromatherapy while you are washing dishes or on a walk is a pleasant reminder that you live in paradise!

Jasmine

Sauteed Green BeansI made these green beans last night. . .they are. . .in a word. . .amazing.  There is a high probability that I will never, ever steam green beans again.  Unless the planets line up just so, I will probably never, ever blanch and then sauté green beans again.  I sautéed my beans in a smidgen of Organic Valley Pasture Butter {1 tbsp to be precise}, in my trusty cast iron skillet, over medium high heat.  I stirred them around until they started to sizzle and develop a tasty char, and then covered them for about 5 minutes, until they were perfectly cooked.  Into the pan went a minced clove of garlic and some crunchy fleur de sel.  The result was a mélange of delicious flavors from the butter, the perfectly cooked beans, crispy garlic bits and crunchy salt.  These beans were polished off quickly, and will be made again and again.

Last week, I made these delicious cookies to take to work.  I had a whole plateful of them. . .apricot bars topped with sliced almonds and sprinkled ever so lightly with gold pearl dust powder. . .on a coral plate. . .they looked gorgeous.  And guess who forgot to photograph them for her blog?  Didn’t even occur to me until I was washing my empty plate.  So 3 days later, I made them again, and took them to work {the people who were there both days were happy!}.   I decided to carry them in the 8″x8″ dish I made them in, for easier transport; not as pretty as a coral plate for sure.  So I took a few out and put them on a coral plate to photograph.  This picture does not do them justice, and for that I apologize, but I assure you they are quite spectacular to eat.  Next time I make them, I will repost this recipe with a beautiful picture of these cookies in all their splendor.  Hmmm, when should I make them again?

apricot bars

Apricot Bars

About 18 graham crackers
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tbsp butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs from about 8 full sheets
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes {shreds will work, but I like flakes better}
3/4 cup chopped apricots

Line the bottom of 8 or 9 inch square baking pan with graham crackers. You can put 3 full sheets in one direction, and then fill the remaining space with however many crackers will fit.

Combine milk, water and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture comes to a full boil; remove from heat, stir in butter.  When the butter is almost melted, stir in graham cracker crumbs, sliced almonds, unsweetened flaked coconut and apricots {read a short bit about the difference between California dried apricots and Turkish dried apricots-we prefer California apricots}.  Spread hot mixture over graham crackers. Top with 9 more graham crackers. Press down until even and firm.  Top with icing, then sprinkle with sliced almonds.  I happen to have pearl dust, so sometimes I like to sprinkle a little golden shimmer over the top-very pretty.

Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp soft butter
½ tsp almond extract {don’t be temped to use vanilla; the almond extract makes these cookies}
About 1 tbsp milk

Beat together adding milk as needed. Sprinkle with sliced nuts if desired. Chill until firm.  These cookies improve with age, so don’t gobble them up too early.  Cut into small squares.

Reading: 
Vegetable Literacy {Deborah Madison}
Eating on the Wild Side {Jo Robinson}
Yes, Chef! {Marcus Samuelsson}

Musically Speaking-On the Playlist:
Alt-J

Matthew Dear
Underworld
Jaguar Ma


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Salted Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

“Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues.”  Unknown Author
I’ll start by saying that I’m pretty popular when I take these cookies to work, or to a sunset beach BBQ.  People seem to like them. . . a lot.  I am amazed at how many people screw up their faces when they hear that a sweet treat has salt on it.  There is no surprise here.  Salty + sweet = something delicious.  Case closed.  Remember how good a chocolate milkshake and French fries tastes? Indeed, putting the right kind of salt on your cookie can be quite tasty.  This recipe is an adaptation of Jules Clancy’s {Stone Soup} adaptation of Molly Wizenburg’s {Orangette} recipe.  I have reduced the sugar, changed the flour to whole wheat pastry flour & added walnuts.  I have strong feelings about nuts in cookies.  In my opinion, no self-respecting chocolate chip cookie goes into the oven without nuts {big pieces please, not finely chopped}.  The combination of butter, brown sugar, chocolate and walnuts is one of the tastiest I know.  It’s delicious before and after baking, especially with salt; Maldon salt to be exact.  The dough itself has no salt; it is all on the outside of the cookies.  Big, crunchy flakes of white salt from France.  It isn’t inexpensive salt, but a little goes a long way, and it lasts a long time.  Whatever you do, please do not use the stuff in the blue box.  It will not taste good on your cookies or anything else for that matter.  Once you get used to good salt, there is no going back to iodized table salt.  This recipe goes together quickly, especially if you use a scale instead of measuring cups, and it’s easy to make all the cookies exactly the same size.  Invariably, my balls of dough would vary in size before I started weighing my cookie dough.  Bonus: clean-up goes quicker too!

Salted Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

10 oz. unsalted butter, softened
13 oz. light brown sugar {2 packed cups}
2 eggs
16 oz. whole wheat pastry flour {3 ½ cups + 1 tbsp flour}
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
16 oz. dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate {I use Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chips}
2 cups broken walnuts

Cream the butter & sugar together until light & creamy.  Add eggs & mix until well combined.

Whisk flour, baking powder & baking soda together.

Stir butter mixture into flour just until combined.

Stir in chocolate chips & nuts.  Cover & refrigerate at least 15” but no longer than 72 hours.  The dough is difficult to work with when it is cold, so I like to make the balls while it’s soft, and then refrigerate it.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment & preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place 1 ½ oz {about golf ball size} balls of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, allowing room for them to spread.  Sprinkle liberally with Maldon salt flakes.  {I sprinkle the cookie sheet with salt before putting the dough balls on it.}

Maldon_Salt

I start checking for doneness at 10” and usually bake them about 14”. I declare them done when the outside edges are set & the center is still moist; this will give you a cookie that is crispy on the edge & soft in the middle, just the way I like it. When baking on 2 trays, reverse cookie sheets’ positions halfway through baking. Cool cookies on the tray.

Makes about 24 cookies

Salted Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies on plate

Some people like their cookies with milk, but I’ll have mine with a nice cup of tea.

Up close chocolate chip cookie with Maldon salt

Take a look at that big flake of French salt!

I hope you’ll bake a batch of these cookies for the chocolate chip cookie lovers  you know; they will love you for it.  And I’m sure you won’t mind either!