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Chocolate Crackle Cookies

1Chocolate crinkles/crackles were a huge part of my childhood. Whenever we stopped by the local bakery, I would either get chocolate crackles or peanut butter cookies, without fail. I’ve wanted to make these for quite some time, but I am literally one of the worst cookie bakers ever — maybe it’s the oven, but they never come out quite right — but I finally decided to give it a shot.

After trying this recipe, I am inclined to say it is foolproof. The cookies were the perfect consistency and didn’t fall flat in the oven — just make sure you chill the dough thoroughly! I also would recommend adding a little extra cocoa powder (about 1/4 cup) to the batter if you want more chocolatey cookies.

3Here’s the recipe, from Martha Stewart:

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups light-brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for rolling

4Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Chop bittersweet chocolate into small bits, and melt over medium heat in a heat-proof bowl or the top of a double boiler set over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and light-brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add melted chocolate. With mixer on low speed, alternate adding dry ingredients and milk until just combined. Divide the dough into quarters, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours.
  3. On a clean countertop, roll each portion of dough into a log approximately 16 inches long and 1 inch in diameter, using confectioners’ sugar to prevent sticking. Wrap logs in plastic wrap, and transfer to a baking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes. Cut each log into 1-inch pieces, and toss in confectioners’ sugar, a few at a time. Using your hands, roll the pieces into a ball shape. If any of the cocoa-colored dough is visible, roll dough in confectioners’ sugar again to coat completely. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on a Silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake until cookies have flattened and the sugar splits, 12 to15 minutes.
  4. Transfer from oven to a wire rack to let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

2Enjoy!!

— Halie

Baklava

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If you’ve ever had a bad experience with baklava and aren’t disposed to try this recipe, I hope you think again: I’ve always tried baklava at restaurants and have been seriously disappointed, but this recipe is simply addictive. I prefer my baklava without pistachios or honey, and I find that it is best served cold, rather than warm, because the sugar syrup tastes better. You can make this ahead and store at room temperature for days — it’ll keep a while, and only tastes better with a few days to let the sugars sink in.

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Baklava is also incredibly simple to make — it does require some patience, but it’s not a complex process. The key is to use a lot of butter between every single layer of phyllo — otherwise the pastry will flake apart after it’s been baked. (Plus, everything tastes better with butter.) To work with the phyllo, I recommend thawing it in the fridge for a good 4-8 hours before you begin baking. If it’s too frozen, it will flake, and if it’s too thawed it will be sticky and the layers impossible to separate. If it does flake apart (this happened to me when I made this batch of baklava), don’t worry — just try and fill the pan as best you can by piecing layers together.

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Finally, I recommend using a pyrex glass casserole dish for baklava (as pictured). Your baklava will bake perfectly and it’s just the right size for the phyllo sheets.

Here’s the recipe (adapted from here):

Ingredients

For the syrup:

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons rose water (you can also substitute orange blossom water)

For the pastry:

  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons rose water (or orange blossom water)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 16-ounce package frozen phyllo pastry, thawed

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Directions

  1. To make sugar syrup, boil together sugar and water for about 2 minutes over high heat, being careful it does not burn or boil over. Just before removing from heat, stir in the rose water. Let cool slightly, then refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. To make the pastry, first clarify the butter. Melt in a pan over gentle heat. Spoon off the milky froth that rises to the top and the solid residue that settles to the bottom. One pound of butter should yield about 1 1/2 cups clarified butter. You can pour the butter into a mug for ease of use later on.
  3. Place walnuts and rose water in bowl of food processor and process in spurts until walnuts are minced. (The rose water helps keep walnuts from getting oily.) Add sugar and process briefly to mix well.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Spread a sheet of plastic wrap or aluminum foil on a work surface. Open phyllo pastry and spread on the surface.
  6. Using the clarified butter and a pastry brush or clean paintbrush, butter a 10- by 14-inch baking pan liberally, bottom and sides. Place one sheet of phyllo pastry in bottom of pan (only half the sheet will fit). Butter surface of pastry, then fold the other half over and butter it. Proceed with the remaining sheets, buttering each one, until you have used about half the sheets in the box. The phyllo sheets should be somewhat crowded in the pan, folded up a little along the sides and at each end. Be sure to butter the corners of the pastry.
  7. Distribute the walnut mixture over the pastry in an even layer.
  8. Place the remaining phyllo sheets over the walnut mixture, again buttering liberally between each layer. When all the sheets have been used, cut the pastry with a sharp knife lengthwise into strips about 1 inch wide, then on the diagonal to make diamonds. Be sure to cut right down through to the bottom of the pan. Pour any remaining clarified butter over the top of the pastry.
  9. Place in oven for 30 minutes, then raise temperature to 425 degrees and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden brown on top. Remove from oven and immediately pour cold syrup over hot pastry. Set aside to cool to room temperature before serving.

Enjoy! This is a fantastic recipe, and great for entertaining — I guarantee it’ll be a hit.

— Halie

Dark Chocolate Tart with Oranges and Almonds

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Oranges, almonds, and — obviously — chocolate are some of my favorite ingredients ever. Hands down. I drink orange juice by the gallon, keep tubs of raw almonds on my desk (Target sells yummy raw almonds by the bucketful, believe it or not), and enjoy chocolate — but that’s just a normal-person thing.

I came across this 2003 Bon Appétit recipe on Epicurious by accident whilst browsing for food for our annual Christmas dessert party and knew I had to add it to my menu. I’ve never been a huge tart person, and indeed I’ve never made a tart, but this recipe screamed delicious: fudgy chocolate, chewy candied oranges, slivered almonds — all in a perfect, crumbly chocolate tart shell infused with cinnamon. Although this recipe has a few components that must be made separately (read: tart shell and candied oranges), it is overall quite easy (the filling comes together in, like, 60 seconds) and well worth the time spent making it!

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Here is the recipe. [My notes are in brackets.]

Ingredients

Candied Orange Peel:

  • 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

Tart Crust: 

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

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Directions

Candied Orange Peel:

  1. Using vegetable peeler, remove peel (orange part only) from orange in strips [note: you can also use the cutting method from this post]. Cut strips into matchstick-size pieces and place in small saucepan. Cover with cold water; bring to boil. Cook 30 seconds; drain. [Note: this is to blanch the bitterness from the peels. I did this twice when I made this tart, and I highly recommend doing this. It is well worth the extra five minutes!]
  2. Rinse saucepan; add 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and peel. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer until peel is translucent and syrup is thick, about 20 minutes. Using tines of fork, transfer peel to plate and cool.
  3. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature. [Note: the peel doesn’t need to be made far in advance; it only takes 15 minutes to cool.]

Tart Crust:

  1. Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl until smooth. Beat in cocoa powder. Add flour and beat until dough comes together in moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  2. Roll out dough between sheets of waxed paper to 11-inch round. Peel off top sheet of paper. Invert dough over 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Gently press dough into pan. Press dough overhang in to form double-thick sides. Pierce dough all over with fork. Refrigerate 30 minutes. [Note: For the best use of your time, this is the best time to make the candied orange peels — while the tart crust is refrigerating. This will give the peels plenty of time to candy and then cool — and you can also bake the tart during the candying process.]
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake crust until sides look dry and bottom looks bubbly, about 14 minutes. Transfer crust to rack. Using back of spoon, press up sides of dough if falling. Cool completely.

Filling & Tart Assembly:

  1. Toss almonds, sugar, and cinnamon in small bowl. Chop all but 2 strips of peel. Sprinkle chopped orange peel, then almond mixture over bottom of prepared crust. Place cream in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to simmer. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth; mix in Grand Marnier. Pour into crust. Refrigerate until filling is firm, at least 3 hours. Garnish with remaining 2 orange peel strips. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover loosely with foil and keep refrigerated.)
  2. Using sharp knife, gently loosen crust from pan sides. Remove pan sides. Cut tart into wedges; serve cold.

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That’s it! This is a super easy recipe and I highly recommend it. It’s also great to make ahead, as the tart only gets more delicious with a few days in the fridge. This was one of the hits of the night at my Christmas party (aside from the baklava, which really stole the show — recipe coming soon), and can be one at your next event too! (Or just make it for yourself — I won’t judge.)

— Halie

Tiramisu Cake

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I wanted to make a special cake for my mom’s birthday, and ever since her trip to Italy last year, she has been into tiramisu.  I figured making a tiramisu cake would be a nice alternative to the usual chocolate or vanilla birthday cake.

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Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup buttermilk

For the espresso extract:

  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso power
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water

For the espresso syrup:

  • ½ cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar

For the filling and frosting:

  • 2 8-ounce containers of mascarpone cheese
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 ½ ounces of semisweet chocolate finely chopped

Directions

For the Cake:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter two 9 inch round cake pans.
  3. Beat butter until creamy.
  4. Add sugar and continue to beat.
  5. Add eggs one by one and then the yolk while mixing.
  6. Add vanilla.
  7. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 parts and the buttermilk in 2.
  8. Pour one half of cake batter in each pan and bake for 30 minutes.

For the extract and syrup:

  1. Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together until blended.
  2. Stir the water and sugar together in a saucepan.
  3. Bring sugar water to a boil.
  4. Remove from heat and add extract.
  5. Once the cakes have cooled pour 1/3 of the espresso syrup on top of each layer.

For the filling and frosting:

  1. Mix the mascarpone, sugar, and vanilla together in a bowl until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk the heavy cream until it forms peaks.
  3. Fold in the heavy cream to the mascarpone mixture.
  4. Frost each layer and add the semisweet chocolate between the layers.
  5. Assemble the cake and frost the outsides.
  6. Dust with coco powder and top with extra chocolate.

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My mom loved this cake.  It was full of flavor and very refreshing!

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen and can be found here.

Enjoy!

— Lizzie

PS: Follow us on instagram @textbooksandteacakes for lots of yummy food photos!

Candied Orange Peel in Dark Chocolate

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I’m obsessed with chocolate-covered orange peels. Then again, I’m also a huge fan of the orange-chocolate combination. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to give this recipe a try!

These are surprisingly simple to make (you just have to be pretty exact about the process) and aren’t nearly as bad for you as regular chocolate. However, they’re just as delicious! Before you begin making these, here are a few tips:

  • Blanch the peels after you’ve cut them and before you begin the candying process. They tend to be very bitter, so blanching them helps draw out some of that bitterness.
  • High quality and/or organic oranges really do make a difference! It’s all about the flavor of the peels.
  • Make sure you don’t over-candy them. At a certain point, the orange peels in the saucepan will cease to become fragrant and will begin to taste funny.
  • Your peels won’t actually become “translucent,” as described in the recipe, so don’t let this lead to over-cooking. Because you’re candying at home, you’re not going to get the same effect as buying candied oranges in store.
  • You will have a lot of peels. 1 orange can yield 12-20+ strips alone. Given that removing the peels from the oranges can be rather time consuming, keep this in mind!

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To make these, I combined a bunch of recipes from around the internet, so here is what I ended up doing:

Ingredients:

  • 2 navel oranges
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • extra sugar for dusting

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Directions:

  1. Wash the oranges thoroughly and quarter them. You need to remove as much of the pith from the peel as possible (the pith is what gives the peels their bitterness), so what I did was slice out the flesh of the orange (you can use this later in salads). Then I sliced the quartered peels into the desired thickness and tried to cut off as much of the pith as possible from there. (It’s much easier to do this once you have made the slices.)
  2. At this point, you can blanch the peels 1-3 times, as desired.
  3. Place the peels, water, and sugar in a small saucepan (the smaller the better — mine was a little too big) and stir until the sugar dissolves. At this point, simmer the peels in the sugar/water mixture for 20-30 minutes, until the peels thicken and become more translucent.
  4. Remove peels from saucepan with a fork and let cool. After 10-15 minutes, you can coat them with extra sugar if desired.
  5. Melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler. Dip each peel into the chocolate as desired, and place on a plate to cool and harden.

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That’s it! You should have far more peels than are photographed here (my dad ate most of them before I got a chance to take pictures), and they are perfect for satisfying a sugar rush or for adding some festivity to a holiday party.

— Halie

 

 

French Apple Tart

Hello!


I apologize for not posting since July!  I know it has been a while since I have posted, but I have been busy. Halie and I have just started our freshman year at college.  We are on opposite sides of the country, but we continue to talk about food even though we have not blogged about it.  This weekend I was home for my fall break.  My parents had a couple of their friends over for dinner, and of course I was put on dessert duty.  I wanted to make something festive for fall so, I bought the food network magazine to read on my plane ride home.  I chose Ina Garten’s French Apple Tart because one can never go wrong with Ina right?  This tart was a hit and had everyone at the dinner table raving!  I highly suggest it, its very easy.

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 12 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)
  • ½ cup ice water

For the apples:

  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice (my own addition)
  • 4 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • ½ cup apricot jelly
  • 2 tablespoons of water

Directions:

For the pastry:

  1. Place flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor or blender (or mix all by hand).
  2. Pulse for a few seconds to combine
  3. Add butter and combine until butter is in small pieces
  4. Pour the ice water in parts until the dough starts to combine
  5. Make dough into a ball and refrigerate for 1 hour

For the apples:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. Shape dough into the pan
  4. Peel, and core apples
  5. Slice apples and arrange in rows
  6. Mix sugar and pumpkin pie spice
  7. Dust apples with sugar mixture
  8. Dot apples with butter
  9. Bake for 1 hour until apples are golden on top

10. Heat jelly and water until they simmer

11. Once tart is out of the oven brush with apricot mixture

12. Serve warm or room temperature

Enjoy!,

Lizzie

Coconut Rice Pudding

My mom came home from the grocery store the other day with coconut water.  She told my brother and I that she was going to make us drink it because she heard how good for you it was.  It was like a repeat of the time she became obsessed with kale.  I know coconut water has been “in” for a while but I never wanted to try it due to my bad experience drinking out of a coconut in Nicaragua.  The coconut water was disgusting.  Anyways, I decided to try the drink and was pleasantly surprised.  I liked it.  I started thinking of a coconut dessert other than coconut cake.  My dad likes rice pudding so I thought it would be a nice thing to make it for him.  This pudding also has a crispy coconut topping and is made with vanilla bean.

Ingredients:

Crispy Coconut Topping:

  • 1 egg white
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups sweetened coconut shavings

Pudding:

  • 2 cans light unsweetened coconut milk (27 ounces)
  • 1 can regular unsweetened coconut milk (13.5 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup jasmine rice (regular rice is also fine)
  • 2/3 cup of sweetened coconut shavings
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • Seeds of one vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Directions:

Crispy Coconut Topping:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
  2. Combine egg whites, and vanilla in a bowl
  3. In a large bowl mix the coconut and egg mixture well
  4. Spread coconut mixture on a baking sheet and bake about 20 minutes or until coconut is crispy.

Pudding:

  1. Combine light coconut milk, regular coconut milk, vanilla extract, vanilla bean, salt, and sugar in a large pot.
  2. Add coconut and uncooked rice.
  3. Bring the mixture to a bowl on high heat.
  4. Then reduce to a simmer for about 1 hour or until pudding has set.
  5. Serve with crispy coconut as a garnish.

This dessert is great and extremely fragrant.  Give it a try!

Enjoy!,

Lizzie