Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nipple Cookies

Ok, so these are really spritz cookies with hershey kisses on top, but my mom makes these every year and an uncle of mine dubbed them nipple cookies so that is what my family has been calling them ever since.Can you blame us? they look like know....

Um...anyways, these are a really great holiday cookie, though they are labour intensive. The recipe makes a lot of little cookies, so make these for a crowd.
I think cookie presses are kind of a pain, and you could use a piping bag I guess, but the damn cookie press is traditional in my home. There is really a small margin of time where the dough is the perfect temperature and consistency to produce perfect little rosettes. You also need a slight hand, as too much pressure and too warm a room will inevitably produce cookie blobs that aren't really that nice.

You can vary the recipe by making half chocolate and putting white chocolate hugs or peppermint kisses on them instead , but I must admit I love the original vanilla shortbread topped with milk chocolate the best. The crisp buttery cookie base and rich milk chocolate just make these a wonderful cookie that almost always gets eaten within minutes of being set out...
And the name is all part of the holiday fun. Sort of.

Nipple cookies

• 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• ¾ cups sugar
• ¼ teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup butter
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
2. Blend in 1 cup butter, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3. Break into a measuring cup 1 egg. If it does not measure ¼ cup, add water up to ¼ cup line.
4. Stir the egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
5. Beat well, then chill. Put dough through a cookie press (or piping bag) onto an ungreased cookie sheet. If the dough becomes too soft, re-chill it slightly. Bake for 8-10 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.
6. Let rest for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Remove to wire rack and top each cookie with a chocolate kiss while still warm. The chocolate will melt and adhere to the cookies.

For chocolate dough:
Melt two ounces unsweetened chocolate into dough.

For half vanilla and half chocolate dough:
Divide dough in half and mix 1 ounce melted unsweetened chocolate into half of the dough.

To marble dough:
Mix chocolate and vanilla dough to make a swirl and press through cookie press.

“festive nipple cookies”
Top chocolate cookies with white chocolate or candy-cane kisses.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies

Adapted From: The Joy of Cooking

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf

This quick bread is my new favourite thing to do with leftover pumpkin puree. I've made pumpkin muffins before and they are always dense and hearty but other than being hearty they generally are not the most exciting muffins around. But this moist pumpkin loaf with its generous amounts of orange zest, tart cranberries, a hint of vanilla , and warming spices has a more complex flavour and is just as satisfying as any of my muffin recipes.

This loaf is so tender, delicate, old fashioned and wintery. It is the perfect comfort food for this shitty Maritimes December day. It is raining! Not even a respectable snowfall..... but if rainy days mean I get to stay in and bake, I guess I cant complain that much...especially after a few slices of this pumpkin loaf.

Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf


Makes one 9x5 loaf

Time: 2 hours

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1-1/2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with butter.
    2. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices and set aside.
    3. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and stir in pumpkin puree, orange zest and vanilla. Stir in orange juice. Add dry ingredients in 2 additions and blend just until incorporated. Fold in cranberries.
    4. Spoon batter into a greased 9x5 loaf pan and bake in centre of oven for 60-75 minutes until a tester inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing.

Adapted from: Sugar by Anna Olson

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chocolate Peppermint Brownies

I was going through my vintage cookbooks again. I am fascinated by the strange food people ate in the 50s and 60's. Take this recipe from 1968, a pie made by mixing lime juice, marshmallows, and heavy cream into a graham crust studded with more mini marshmallows, green food colouring, optional. I would love to try this just to see how it looks! let alone to taste it.
However, while sifting through the outmoded and just plain grotesque, you will ocassionally come across a few gems, like these chocolate peppermint brownies.

A friend of mine from Lithography class mentioned her experiment of mixing hot chocolate and peppermint tea, and it gave me the inspiration for some chocolate mint brownies. I adore mint chocolate chip ice cream and chocolate peppermint bark, and I ate mentos by the handful as a kid but it always seemed wrong to put mint into anything that wasn't a full on cakes and brownies. However, my mind was changed after some free samples of the chocolate peppermint brownies at Starbucks.(I love when they give me free samples....its like they are feeding me to hang around, except that I already bought my 4 dollar latte)
The point of this long digression is that a pepperminty frosting over dense fudgy brownies is an inspired match. So when I was browsing my old cookbooks and found this recipe that calls for stuff I already have in my pantry, and no marshmallows in sight, I knew it would be great.

And it is, an elegant 3 layer brownie, consisting of: a fudgy dense brownie base, a white slick of peppermint frosting and a crackly chocolate topping. These would have been great at a 1950s dinner party, let alone a dinner party today, served on pretty platters with some peppermint tea or hot chocolate. These are really tasty, the main flavour here is the chocolate, the peppermint is refreshing but subtle. These are best served cut into tiny one inch squares for a little something sweet and refreshing after a nice dinner, because they are very rich. You could tint the peppermint layer green which would be so retro, but I decided that I would be serving it to people who may be a bit squeamish about food colouring and opted for white. I brought these to school and even got requests for the recipe!

Chocolate Mint Brownies

Time: about 1-2 hours plus chilling time
Makes 24-30 bars depending on how you cut them, these are rich so cut them small!

• 2/3 cup butter
• 3 ounces(squares) unsweetened chocolate
• 2 cups brown sugar
• 3 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1-1/4 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter and chocolate together in the top of a double boiler; remove from heat. Add brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla; blend well. Sift dry ingredients; add ad blend into chocolate mixture, mixing well.
2. Spread evenly in greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-35 minutes, until brownies are firm to the touch and will bounce back when lightly pressed. Cool thoroughly. Chill and glaze.

Mint frosting
• 2 cups powdered sugar
• ¼ cup softened butter
• 2 tablespoons milk or cream
• ½ teaspoon peppermint extract

1. Beat all ingredients until smooth; if desired tint with food colouring. Spread on bars; chill

Chocolate glaze (I just used about 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips melted for this step)

• 2 squares semisweet chocolate
• 2 tablespoons butter

1. Melt chocolate and butter; dribble over cooled firm frosting. Spread gently with spatula until surface is covered. Cool, cut into bars. Yield 24-30 bars depending on how small you cut them.

The Beta Sigma Phi Desserts Cookbook, 1968