Thursday, December 30, 2010

Creating a bit of magic in your oven

927380I don't think garlic is a carbohydrate, but I'm not sure and right now I'm feeling too lazy to grab my Atkins book to find out. All I know is that it is really an essential ingredient in your Carb Diva kitchen.

Honestly, is there a more versatile herb than garlic? Garlic can be grown in multiple climate zones and in the smallest of garden plots. Fresh garlic provides the pungent bite in so many cuisines—Italian pesto,  Greek pasta, Asian stir fries, French cassoulet, South American chimichurri. But when slowly roasted, the crisp heat of fresh garlic transforms to a creamy sweetness. The result is amazing, but is achievable by anyone—even a novice cook.  Here is how to make the magic happen in your kitchen.

Preheat  your oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove any loose papery skin from the garlic but leave the head of garlic intact. Cut about one-half inch off the top of the head of garlic--enough to expose the interior of the garlic cloves. Place the garlic head in the ovenproof dish, cut-side up. Drizzle the oil over the garlic. Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until garlic feels soft (pierce with tip of sharp knife to test).

Set aside until cool enough to handle. Squeeze the garlic cloves from the bottom to release the roasted garlic pulp, which should now be sweet, creamy, and golden brown in color. The resulting roasted garlic pulp can be spread on bread, mixed with softened butter, stirred into dips, or added to sauces. The only limit is your imagination.

Cooks Note: A good head of garlic should be plump and firm, with no visible mildew, spoilage, or shriveling and very little if any sprouting (the green sprouts can be bitter).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Leftovers


Photo: Ellen Silverman
Styling: Toni Brogan
 One week before Christmas my next-door neighbor left to visit her children and grandchildren in the Midwest. And, since she knew she would not return until the end of January, she emptied her frig--and blessed me with produce, condiments, and dairy products. Things that wouldn't keep for two months. I've use all of them except............the buttermilk. What to do with that?

I know that pancakes, biscuits, and cake are all easy answers to the question, but I wanted something a bit different. So, I asked my best friend "Bing" to find a solution for me. This is what Bing and I came up with:



Walnut Bread
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup boiling water
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
6 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons canola oil
20.25 ounces all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 cups), divided
9 ounces whole-wheat pastry flour (about 2 cups)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Cooking spray


1. Place oats in a food processor; pulse 8 times or until coarsely chopped. Combine chopped oats and 1 cup boiling water in a medium bowl; let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Add buttermilk to oat mixture, stirring to combine. Stir in honey and oil. Add the oat mixture to yeast mixture; mix with dough hook attachment until combined. Weigh or lightly spoon 13.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 cups) and whole-wheat pastry flour in dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours with salt. Add flour mixture to buttermilk mixture. Mix dough at medium speed 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding remaining all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to sides of bowl. Add walnuts; mix at medium speed just until combined.

3. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

4. Preheat oven to 400°.

5. Punch dough down; divide in half. Divide each half into 3 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), shape each portion into a 14-inch rope. Place 3 ropes lengthwise on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray (do not stretch). Pinch ends together at one end to seal. Braid ropes, and pinch loose ends together to seal. Repeat procedure with remaining dough to form another braid. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

6. Spritz top and sides of loaves lightly with water from a spray bottle. Bake on center rack of oven at 400° for 28 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Where are we going?

What should I do in the New Year? What do you my readers (both of you) want?

I don't envision myself as another Julie Powell--besides, at my age I'd more likely be portrayed by Meryl Streep than Amy Adams. But I'd like to think that my blog can provide at least as much if not more than the original Julie/Julia project. Real content with explanations and (sometimes) funny stories, or at least "relatable" stories -- and without the language!

When I began this blog a few months ago I hoped I could earn a little money--not millions, or even thousands, but at least a few extra dollars each day/week/month to give to my church. Sofar it hasn't happened. AdSense won't even cut a check until I reach the $10.00 mark.

I'm sure there is probably more that I can do to promote my blog and make it more "marketable". I plant to enroll in a blogging class at my local community college. Maybe there I'll gain tips on marketing and applying widgets to my page to attract a wider audience.

In the meantime...what can I do to make you love me more (and want to share me with all of your friends)? What do you like? What do you hate? What do you want more of?

Please let me know.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Taking a moment away from the decadence!




OK, I wasn't going to post today. After all, it's CHRISTMAS! But the brunch was finished long ago, the gifts unwrapped, a few already used, and the rest tucked away in their appropriate places within the house. Husband is out in the garage doing whatever husbands do out there, the kitties are sleeping, one daughter is visiting friends, and the other is watching the Disney Christmas Parade.

So, I have a bit of time on my hands until the next meal (late dinner) is due on the table.

I made a potato casserole for today's brunch, and even my non-potato-loving daughter liked it. So, why don't I share it with you? It takes only minutes to put together, doesn't cost much, and feeds a BUNCH of people.

Cheesy Potato Casserole
1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bag (1 lb 14 oz) frozen shredded potatoes
1 can cream of mushroom soup*
1 cup low-fat or non-fat sour cream
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup french fried onions (i.e. Durkee) (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Saute onion in olive oil over medium heat until softened. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl stir together potatoes, soup, sour cream, cheese, and reserved sauted onions. Pour into a well-greased 13x9-inch baking dish. Top with french fried onions.

Bake for 70 minutes.

*instead of cream of mushroom, you could substitute cream of chicken, celery, or onion.

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....


Free photo - red brown decoration available in our free stock photosTomorrow is Christmas Day. I know I should be baking that "one more batch of cookies", but I'm using my time in the kitchen today to prepare for our traditional Christmas Brunch. When my daughters were young, I know they were not happy about going to church before the presents had been opened, but I theorized that it would be even harder (and more cruel) to rip them away from their toys.

We don't focus on a traditional dinner of turkey, or ham or goose. Instead, I prepare brunch dishes that can be assembled ahead of time and then placed in the oven as soon as we return home. While the gifts under the tree are being sorted out into piles, our feast is warming. Then we pile our plates, sit by the fireplace, and take turns opening our gifts. There's no need to hurry. We spend a relaxed late morning/early afternoon opening gifts, laughing, eating, and sharing time with each other.

Homemade cinnamon rolls have always been a favorite, as well as apple crisp. This year I decided to try something new. Why not combine the two?

Cinnamon Spiral Rolls
Syrup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
Dough
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup milk
Filling
  • 3 or 4 Granny Smith apples, shredded (enough to make 4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the ingredients for the syrup in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil for 5 minutes and then remove from heat. Set aside.

Prepare the dough by combining all of the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in the milk and mix just until all of the flour is moistened. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and kneed 8 to 10 times. Pat or roll into a 10x12-inch rectangle.

Peel, core, and grate the apples. They will release a lot of moisture, so squeeze them to remove as much excess juice as possible. Spread evenly on the dough rectangle. Combine the 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the apples. Roll up, jelly-roll style, from one long end. Cut into 12 equal slices and place in a well-greased 13x9-inch baking pan.

Pour the sugar syrup over the rolls. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the tops of the rolls begin to brown and the syrup is bubbly. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving. Can be made one day ahead and then reheated in a 300 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Makes 12 rolls.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gone, but not forgotten

Recipe to follow!


1/3 cup vegetable margarine, softened 
1/3 cup shortening 
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
 Replacer for 1 egg 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour 
1/2 cup candied ginger
1 cup almonds...I have a confession to make. Yesterday, I rediscovered the cookie jar in the back of the pantry. I don't know how it got there. My heart breaks thinking of the lonely days (weeks?) it might have spent back there feeling unappreciated, neglected, and alone.

And yes, there were cookies within. Oatmeal cookies with pumpkin kisses. The kisses still look wonderful, but the cookie part is horribly stale. The kisses can be snapped off and are "as good as new", but what about the oatmeal cookie that was left behind?

I can't and won't throw them away. Years ago I was lucky enough to get a recipe from my local bakery--Recycled Cookies. (This was long before recyling was in vogue). Please keep this recipe in mind when you have cookies, cake, or (at New Years?) fruitcake that seems past it's prime.

Recycled Cookies
1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
3 cups rolled oats (not instant oatmeal)
2 - 2 1/2 cups crumbled cookies, cake, or fruitcake

Cream together shortening and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, salt, soda, and cookie/cake/fruitcake crumbs.

At this point you will need to add some liquid to moisten. If you have used chocolate cookie crumbs/cake add milk or coffee. Otherwise, use orange or apple juice. You want to add just enough to moisten but not end up with a sticky/gluey mass.

Form the dough into a roll 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until firm. Slice 1/4 inch thick and bake on lightly greased baking sheet at 375 degrees F for about 8 minutes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A gift from my kitchen

Today I"m taking a break from cookie-baking to prepare a gift for my next-door neighbors. Donn and Trish have been dear friends for two decades. Both in their 80's, Donn is an artist and retired private school teacher. Trish is an avid gardener and has taught me so very much over the years. They built their Cape Cod style home some 50 years ago; over the years they have filled it with antique furniture from their many trips to the British Isles.


Their home is always warm and inviting--especially during the holidays--in part due to the massive fireplace in their dining room, but mostly because of the warmth and love they show to everyone they know. To help with their entertaining this Christmas season, I've decided to bake an English toffee cheesecake for them.


The recipe I selected is from the Epicurious.com website but I've made a few adjustments:

Christmas Cheesecake with English Toffee Filling
INGREDIENTS
Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 5 ounces graham crackers)
1/2 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
1/2 cup English toffee bits (such as Skor)
2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

     NOTE: In lieu of toasted almonds and toffee bits, I omitted the 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, increased the amount of graham cracker crumbs to 2 cups, and added 1/2 cup granola, whirled in the blender to pulverize.

Filling:
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
8 ounces chocolate-covered English toffee (such as Skor or Heath bars), cut into 1/2-inch pieces


Topping:
1 16-ounce container sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Assorted candies (such as gumdrops and holiday M&M’s)

INSTRUCTIONS
For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl. Add butter; stir until moist clumps form. Press mixture over bottom and 1 inch up sides of 10-inch-diameter springform pan. Bake crust until just set, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.


For filling:
Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in both extracts. Pour half of mixture into prepared crust; sprinkle with toffee pieces. Pour remaining mixture over. Bake until edges are puffed but center is barely set, about 55 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare topping:
Mix sour cream, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl until smooth. Pour topping over hot cheesecake. Bake cake until topping is just set, about 5 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool 10 minutes. Run knife between cake and pan sides. Chill cake uncovered overnight.

Remove pan sides and place cake on platter. Garnish top with candies.
     NOTE: I didn't decorate the top with red and green Christmas candies. I thought their presence would detract from the toffee flavor. I also feared that the red and green artificial color would bleed onto the top of the cheesecake. Instead, I placed candied pecan halves on the top of the cheesecake, encircling the outside edge, and then drizzled dark chocolate and carmel sauce decoratively over the top. Bon App├ętit
December 2000

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's a cookie, it's candy, it's a pie.....it's addictive


Fudge Brownie Tartlets
Photo "Better Homes and Gardens" 
 Tassies (or little cups) are part cookie, part confection and total satisfaction. Rich, buttery pastry is pressed into tiny muffin cups, and then filled with a sweet batter--usually chocolate, pecan, or lemon. My favorite is a fudge brownie tassie. I found these at the Better Homes and Gardens website:






Ingredients
1/2  cup  butter, softened
1  3-ounce package  cream cheese, softened
1  cup  all-purpose flour
1/2  cup  semisweet chocolate pieces
2  tablespoons  butter
1/3  cup  sugar
1    egg, beaten
1  teaspoon  vanilla
    Macadamia nuts, hazelnuts (filberts), almonds, or walnut pieces (optional)
    Chocolate Butter Frosting (below)

Directions

1. For pastry, in a medium bowl, combine the 1/2 cup butter and the cream cheese. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.
2. Shape dough into 24 balls. Press each ball evenly onto the bottom and up the side of an ungreased 1-3/4-inch muffin cup.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. For filling, in a small saucepan, combine chocolate pieces and the 2 tablespoons butter; heat and stir over low heat until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, egg, and vanilla. If desired, place a macadamia nut, hazelnut (filbert), almond, or walnut piece and about 1-1/2 teaspoons of the chocolate mixture into each dough-lined muffin cup.

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling is puffed. Cool tartlets in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of each muffin cup to remove tartlets from pans. Transfer tartlets to wire racks and cool.
5. Pipe or spoon Chocolate Butter Frosting onto tartlets. If desired, top with additional nuts. Makes 24 tartlets.

Chocolate Butter Frosting: In a large bowl, beat 1/4 cup butter, softened, with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. Gradually add 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in 2 tablespoons milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Gradually beat in 2-1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar. Beat in enough additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to reach piping consistency.

To make ahead: Prepare as directed through step 4. Place cooled tartlets in a single layer in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. (Or place cooled tartlets in a freezer container; cover. Freeze for up to 3 months.) To serve, thaw tartlets, if frozen. Continue as directed in step 5.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's a wonderful slice!


photo from http://www.hersheys.com/

OK, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Years (and years) ago, when I first met my husband (to be) he loved York Peppermint Patties. He loved them so much that, every afternoon, at breaktime, he'd run down to the cafeteria and buy a York. Every day!

Now, even as the reigning Carbdiva, I know that everything is best in moderation. The peppermint patties are no longer a daily part of his diet, but once in a while I'll bake a pan of these brownies for him -- for old time's sake.

York Sensational Brownies
1 1/2 cups butter
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Hershey's cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
24 small (1 1/2 inch) York Peppermint Patties, unwrapped

 Heat oven to 350°F.(325°F. for glass baking dish). Remove wrappers from peppermint patties. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

Stir together butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl. Add eggs; beat until well blended. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; blend well. Reserve 2 cups batter. Spread remaining batter in prepared pan. Arrange peppermint patties about 1/2 inch apart in single layer over batter. Spread reserved 2 cups batter over patties.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack; cut into squares. About 36 brownies.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Even better than milk's favorite cookie!!


Photo by New Nana at www.food.com

Milk's favorite cookie? Oreo's of course (or at least that's what the folks at Nabisco would like us to believe). I found today's recipe at another favorite website -- www.food.com.








Oreo Cookie Balls
1 pkg regular size Oreo cookies, crushed
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 pkg white almond bark
1 pkg chocolate almond bark

Using a mixer, blend crushed Oreos and cream cheese together. Roll into walnut-sized balls. Chill for one hour.

Melt approximately 3/4 pkg of white almond bark.

Stick a toothpick in one of the Oreo balls and dip it in the melted white almond bark. Allow to harden on waxed paper (this takes about 15 minutes). While waiting, melt 1/4 package of chocolate almond bark. When Oreo balls are no longer sticky to the touch, decorate with drizzles of chocolate almond bark.

You can use the remaining 3/4 pkg chocolate almond bark to coat Oreo cookie balls and the remaining 1/4 pkg of white almond bark to drizzle.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More pretzels!!!

256713I've noticed that candy-coated pretzels are showing up at many of the local coffee stands--they look amazingly decadent, enrobed in chocolate (white, milk, dark, or all of the above), and covered in sprinkles or crushed candy canes. And....they're EXPENSIVE!

Why? I think these would be soooo easy to make and a great activitiy for the little people in your life. So gather your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews or the kids next door and see how creative you can be.



Ingredients:
One bag of pretzel rods, twists, or other shape of your choosing
1 pkg almond bark (white, milk, or dark "chocolate")
Assorted toppings (finely chopped nuts, crushed candy, sprinkles, coconut--use your imagination)

Take the pretzels out of their bag, shake off the excess salt, and set them aside. Prepare several baking sheets by lining them with waxed paper.

Melt almond bark in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally. (Yes, I know that the instructions on the back of the product say that you can melt the almond bark in the microwave, but half of the time I end up burning it. A bowl over simmering water takes a bit longer, but it's well worth it in my humble opinion).

Once the almond bark is melted and smooth, it's time to get the kids ready to do their part. If you are working with very young children you will probably want to be in charge of dipping the pretzels into the almond bark. Dip one pretzel at a time, shake off the excess, and lay it down on a waxed paper covered baking sheet. Now, its time for the kids to take whatever topping they want and toss it on the pretzel. They need to work quickly as the almond bark sets up quickly.

The "finished products" can be further decorated with a drizzle of melted chocolate piped on from the snipped corner of a zip-lock sandwich bag.

Have fun, and if you have any comments or suggestions, please let me know!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pretzels + Chocolate = Yummy!!

It's time to get the children (or grandchildren) involved in making goodies for Christmas. So I'm going to present several ideas that can be done with little ones with just a little supervision and help from mom or dad.

This one was posted by Barbara Shelby on the website www.kidactivities.net

Photo courtesy of cutesassy.com
Hugs and Kisses Holiday Pretzels

3 bags checkerboard, windowpane, or round pretzels
1 (large pound size) bag M&Ms plain chocolate candies (use red and green)
3 (13 ounce) bags Hershey's Hugs chocolates
3 (13 ounce) bags Hershey's chocolate kisses

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Open the bags of pretzels and place them on a parchment or waxed paper-lined cookie sheets in a single layer. DO ONLY ONE TYPE OF CANDY PER SHEET because the Hugs melt faster than the kisses.

Unwrap Hugs or Kisses, place one on each pretzel, repeat for an entire cookie sheet.
Place cookie sheets in the preheated oven, bake 4 MINUTES FOR THE SHEET OF pretzels and HUGS, 5-6 minutes for the pretzels and KISSES. Remove from oven and immediately put a M&M on top of each pretzel/chocolate, pressing down gently. Place cookie sheet in freezer or refrigerator until the chocolate is reset.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What was I thinking??!!

373352Thirty days of cookies? Really? I must have been having a senior moment. Only a little over a week into this challenge and I'm beginning to wonder if I can truly pull if off. First, I'm not sure I can be that creative. And secondly, I doubt my kitty will allow me to continue working in the kitchen without making something that contains cheese. (If you know my cat, you'll understand that comment).

I have not tried this cookie recipe yet. I copied it from the December 2004 issue of Bon Appetit. It sounded good then, and it still sounds good today. Maybe I'll give it a try today.

White Chocolate and Peppermint Cookie Brittle
A giant cookie is topped with coarsely crushed peppermint candies and melted white chocolate, then broken into irregular pieces.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped into 1/3-inch pieces, divided
3/4 cup coarsely crushed red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies (about 6 ounces), divided

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk melted butter, both sugars, and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until just blended. Stir in 1 cup chopped white chocolate and 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy.


Transfer dough to prepared sheet. Press dough into 14x8-inch rectangle, about 3/8 inch thick. Bake cookie until top is firm and dark golden, about 30 minutes. Cool on sheet 10 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.

Stir remaining white chocolate in top of double boiler over barely simmering water until melted and smooth. Using small spoon, drizzle about half of melted chocolate in thin lines over cooled cookie. Sprinkle remaining crushed peppermint candies over chocolate. Drizzle remaining white chocolate over top. Let stand until white chocolate sets, about 1 hour. Break cookie into irregular 2- to 3-inch pieces.

(Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Under my thumb

I love chocolate. I am an unabashed chocoholic. If given a choice between a savory, juicy Porterhouse steak or Lindt dark chocolate with a hint of chili pepper, I’d choose the Lindt. If either a sweet, succulent lobster tail with drawn butter, or a Ghirardelli 70 percent cacao, there’s no need for a bib. If it were George Clooney on a deserted island or a Fran‘s dark chocolate/sea salt caramel, well I’m afraid I’d have to break someone’s heart.

When a want something a bit more indulgent than a chocolate bar to satisfy my craving, I often bake cookies. Chocolate chip cookies are OK in a pinch, but I prefer something a bit more intense. Brownies are comforting (I prefer the chewy kind). And then there are chocolate crackle cookies. Sinfully dark and dense, moist on the inside and covered in a crisp coating of powdered sugar.

Today I was wondering if there was some way to make them even more enchanting? What about turning a chocolate crackle cookie into a thumbprint cookie, and then filling the indentation with chocolate hazelnut spread?

Here’s what is happening in my kitchen today:

Chocolate Crackle Thumbprints with Chocolate/Hazelnut Filling
½ cup butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
¼ tsp. Salt
Confectioners sugar for rolling cookies
About ½ cup Chocolate/hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk, milk, and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, and salt and gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and chill for at least one hour or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Form dough into 1-inch balls (this recipe makes about 2 ½ dozen cookies). Roll in confectioners sugar to cover. Place cookies 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet.

Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make a ½-inch indentation in the
center of each ball. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool. Fill the indentations with about ½ tsp of chocolate/hazelnut spread.