Browned Butter Rice Krispy Treats

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I have a confession: I love rice krispy treats. I love them in an unabashed I will gorge myself silly on them if they are in the house kind of way.  I love them in a “these are made with breakfast cereal so they totally count for breakfast” kind of way.
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I’ve been making these little snacks for at least three years, every six months or so I get a hankering and cook up a batch.  It takes ten minutes at the most and you get to have a super classy and delicious dessert/snack/breakfast at the end.  I made these ones with my sister and she took all the pictures for me, I also made her some salted caramel sauce that same night so we got creative with the drizzling.
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Now go grab the ingredients and make these.  They’ll cost you less than $3 and they disappear within twenty four hours. I promise.

Browned Butter Rice Krispy Treats
This recipe is adapted from Flour:Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe by Joanne Chang – I love this book, you should too.

  • 9 cups of rice cereal (generic Rice Krispies are totally fine)
  • 1 bag of marshmallows (I use Jet-Puffed Mini Marchmallows becasue they melt better)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 a vanilla bean (optional but it really does make it better)
  • 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
  • Lightly grease a 9×13 pan with butter, just to coat. Measure out the rice krispies into a large bowl.
  • Add the butter and the caviar from the vanilla bean (all those seeds inside when you split it) to a medium pot. Melt the butter over medium heat and keep a close eye on it. The butter will go from browned to burnt in about two seconds. Wanna Be a Country Cleaver has a great How To for browned butter over on her blog if you want some pictures and a step-by-step tutorial.
  • Add the marshmallows to the browned butter and stir to combine and melt. This will be a bit sticky and not all of the butter will blend with the marshmallows, that’s ok.
  • Pour the butter/marshmallow/vanilla bean mix over the cereal and stir quickly. The sugars in the marshmallows cool fairly quickly so being well prepared and stirring fast is key here.
  • Press the rice krispy treat mixture into your greased pan. I frequently use a piece of parchment to smooth out the top of my treats without getting my hands messy.
  • Sprinkle your coarse salt on top of the treats. The salt can be added to the cereal if you prefer but I always find that it falls to the bottom of the mixture when that happens.
  • Enjoy with a drizzle of caramel you made for your big sister, because she asked for it and you just couldn’t say no.

Tropical Thumbprint Cookies

thumbprint2Right before Christmas my dear friend Jess celebrated her birthday and I refused to let it pass unacknowledged. So I took the day off, brought her out to a nice seafood dinner and never called her again, brought her out to brunch at the Deluxe Town Diner, shopping for treats, and finally home where I gave her my favorite cookbooks and told her to pick a treat. She chose an adult thumbprint cookie from Baking by Dorie Greenspan.  It looked easy enough but then I realized I didn’t quite have the ingredients it called for but had a few other things that would work as substitutes and made it work.
thumbprint_flourWhat came out were perfectly bite sized cookies with a lovely yielding texture and bright non-winter tropical flavors of coconut, mango, and passionfruit. Dorie Greenspan’s recipe called for hazelnuts, but I didn’t have any so I swapped in  a combination of finely ground pepitas, pecans, and coconut – hers were also raspberry jam filled but Jess wanted something tropical and as all I had that could be considered tropical was coconut milk we went to the store and ended up getting this in Medley of Fruits. It made perfect curd (thanks Ina Garten!) and was just right in our thumbprints. There’s something truly indulgent about making cookies on a whim because it’s a friends birthday and it just feels right.
thumprint_doughThese were a perfect birthday treat for Jess and I sent her home with most of the leftovers, knowing full well that I wasn’t going to finish them and she would be MUCH better served by having them at her home.
thumbprints_curdMy point? Go make these cookies for yourself, right now. It’s cold and snowy outside and, honestly, all you want is a little bite of the tropics to make you at least fantasize about warmer weather and longer days, AMIRITE?
thumbprint1Tropical Thumbprint Cookies
The cookies are adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. The curd is straight from this recipe by Ina Garten but I substituted finely shredded unsweetened coconut (about 3 Tbs) for the lemon zest and fruit juice for the lemon juice (1/2 cup).

For the Cookies

  • 1 3/4 cup Finely Ground Nuts (I used 1 cup of ground pepitas and pecans and 3/4 cup of finely shredded unsweetened coconut)
  • 1 3/4 cup AP Flour
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Whisk the nuts, coconut, and flour together
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar together for 3-4 minutes on medium, until light and fluffy. Add the extracts and beat to blend them in, another minute.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour/nut combination. Mix the dough just until the flour is incorporated, about 2 minutes.
  • working in scant tablespoons create dough balls in your hands. Once the dough is shaped using your thumb (or the rounded handle of a utensil) press dimples into the cookies.
  • Bake the cookies for 15-18 mins, they will be a little bit browned and crispy, don’t worry about under baking these though as the lack of eggs makes the dough fine to eat on it’s own. Also, I enjoyed the tenderness the cookies had when they were a hair underdone.
  • Allow the cookies to cool completely after removing them from the oven.
  • Fill the dimples in the cookies with your homemade curd, or jam, or whatever thick, treacly thing you want to put there – but the curd went a LONG way.
  • Enjoy, with a cup of tea and a friend on her birthday.

Matcha Chip Cookies

I love green tea. I have loved green tea since I went to Japan in college and learned about it – history, origins, culture, it was enchanting to me. I tend to not cook with it often – it has a nice subtle flavor and alone it’s perfect but it can be overpowering in baked goods or as part of a meal (unless it’s the green tea braised short ribs at Myers and Chang, then eat one… or five, they’re divine). But, I digress, I finally got up the courage recently to commit to trying green tea as a flavor than as a lovely drink that keeps me going at my new job, I made cookies with it. I’d seen the cookies presented in many a blog post on Guchi’s Midnight Ramen, a very lovely and cool phenomenon that ran through Boston last winter/spring. They managed to end almost all of their pop-ups on a light sweet note with a green tea chocolate chip cookie. I thought these sounded lovely. I dreamt about them, I wondered how best to create something delicious and green tea flavored without thinnning it out. Then I remembered Matcha powder, bright green, flour fine, and perfect for adding to anything that requires flour.


See the things with these cookies was that they were not offensively green tea-y they were just nice with a slightly floral and light undertone. I used a chocolate bar with candied ginger in it, but you could use the Trader Joe’s Chocolate covered ginger pieces or just use regular dark chocolate chips and these would be just as good. I shared these cookies around, with my Chinese coworker, who was shocked I made green tea cookies, with my sister who took these gorgeous shots while I was baking, with BF (of course) and our house guest. Everyone fell for them. This is also my favorite regular chocolate chip cookie recipe, it comes from my time in baking class in high school when I was still learning what cooking and food meant to me. Also, it’s just the best.

Now go, get a decent quality matcha powder or you will be sad. Sidebar: The More You Know. It will be about $10 for a small can of the matcha powder (less than 4 oz) but it’s worth it. In Boston and it’s suburbs I tend to get mine at a Korean specialty store in Union Square called Reliable Market. You will also see lots of other cool things while you’re there.

Matcha-Chip Cookies

Note: For a regular Chocolate-Chip Cookie just omit the matcha powder here and add your favorite chocolate chips. This recipe is from my Baking class cookbook that I got back in high school, it’s tattered and I love it to pieces.

  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, light or dark is up to you, I only use dark but the light might be more delicate here
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs matcha powder
  • i cup chocolate chips
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or by hand with a wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugars together until they are light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix until fully combined.
  • In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, soda, salt, and matcha and whisk them together, it should smell of just a hint of matcha and be a lovely pale green color.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir to combine.
  • Add the chocolate chips and gently fold them in until they are just distributed in the dough.
  • Scoop the dough in 2 Tbs dallops on to parchment lined sheets. Bake for 12 mins, until they are lightly browned on the edges and the centers aren’t shiny and wet anymore.
  • Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the pan (about 3 minutes) before transferring them to a cooling rack.
  • Enjoy with a cup of tea, it will only enhance the flavor of the cookie in the right ways. Share.

Rosemary-Asiago Shortbread

Rosemary Asiago Shortbread

I’m a sucker for savory-sweet combinations – so when my Boston Organics box arrived last Thursday and had a clamshell container of rosemary inside I did a little jump of joy. See, I’d been thinking about a savory shortbread for quite awhile after an accidental tweet to the fantastic Shelby saying I owed her some parmesan shortbread. I meant to say parmesan crackers but that accidental tweet started my cooking brain going. There was a salty-sweet cookie that sounded swoon-worthy and it lingered. I started to fantasize about this cookie and spent a lot of baking time playing with it.

Ingredients

Then I tried the Lark’s fine foods Rosemary Shortbread – I ate an entire package of these cookies in a sitting. I would say oops to that lapse in common sense, but I don’t regret it – they were luxurious and decadent with a perfect crumb. Here’s the thing – I am not typically a fan of shortbread in any form. I find it bland and lackluster most of the time. But, this shortbread – the Lark’s and my own are perfect. They are a little sandy and offer just the right amount of sweetness to keep you eating them.

Dough

I am hopelessly in love with these cookies, and everyone I’ve shared them with (aside from BF, because he’s not the biggest rosemary fan) has felt similarly. These are rich without being overly so, they are sweet without being cloying, and the rosemary is such an unexpected burst of flavor you really just want to keep eating them until they are all gone.

Wedges

Rosemary-Asiago Shortbread

Note: This recipe is an odd Frankenstein’s Monster of at least three that I’ve had kicking around my apartment for a while. I’m now fiercely attached to it though and will probably continue to use the base for all of my shortbread needs.
  • 1/2 cup grated asiago or parmesan cheese
  • 3-4 Tbs rosemary leaves removed from the stem, more rosemary is a stronger flavor – I prefer more, BF prefers none
  • 1- 1 1/2 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and gently swirl it around until it becomes a light brown and smells nutty. DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM THIS BUTTER AT ANY TIME. The butter will burn if you do that, because it’s an evil thing that wants you to waste more butter.
  • Set the browned butter aside to cool slightly.
  • Add the cheese, rosemary, brown sugar, and maple syrup to the bowl of a food processor, pulse or run this until it resembles wet sand – about fifteen pulses or 45 seconds of steady speed.
  • Add the butter to the food processor and allow it to fully absorb into the sugar mixture (this should only take a couple of seconds).
  • Add the flour and baking soda and pulse until just combined. The mixture will look like loose pie dough.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap (a couple layers are better, I find) and chill it in the fridge for half an hour to an hour.
  • Separate the chilled dough in half.
  • Press each half of dough into a 9-inch round cake pan. You may need to crumble the dough up then press it back in tightly. Don’t worry, you won’t hurt it. I usually use a piece of parchment and a ball jar to smooth mine out so it’s even.
  • Press the edges of the dough down with a fork, so there are little lines all around (this is my favorite part).
  • Bake the shortbread at 325 for 20-25 minutes; the edges will be a light golden brown and they will smell amazing.
  • When the shortbread is done, remove it from the oven and immediately flip it out onto a cutting board. Cut this into wedges while it is still warm. If you don’t cut the cookie while it is still warm it will turn to crumbs when you try to cut it later. THIS IS YOUR WARNING.
  • Eat this with tea on a sunny porch. You will love it. I promise.

Hazelnut-Chocolate Biscotti

I love to make homemade food gifts.  I find it rewarding to give someone something I made from scratch specifically for them.  One of my best friends and I were preparing to swap Christmas gifts and had both decided that homemade was the way to go.  So I started hunting for recipes.  I had initially wanted to make biscotti for my step dad as a Christmas present, but he was on a diet – the idea for homemade biscotti lingered though.  I went through all of my cookbooks searching and narrowing recipes for the delectable coffee pairing until I found the one that would be perfect for B.  A cinnamon-chip biscotti was calling my name.  I swapped in some chocolate chips for the cinnamon and I was good to go.

 I have a confession to make – I don’t really care for biscotti, I find it too dry and hard most of the time, leaving me with a sore roof of the mouth and an unpleasant after taste.  But homemade biscotti is entirely a horse of a different color, it’s tender while still firm and left me craving more with every bite.  B loved it – or said she did to save my feelings :P But in all seriousness there are some things I will change about my next batch – I’ll coarsely chop the hazelnuts because whole was just too much and I’ll leave out the chocolate chips – they were delicious but they also made it just not pretty.  I’ll just dip them in ganache next time instead, besides that will give a better cookie to chocolate ratio.

Regardless – you should probably take an afternoon and make these, soon.  They’re that good.  Like overgrown chocolate-chip cookies and they’re just perfect with a good cup of coffee.  Perfect.

Hazelnut-Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito which I borrowed from Megan and love!
Note: The original recipe calls for cinnamon but I really wanted a Nutella feel to these so I omitted the cinnamon.  I also cooked mine for slightly less time than they called for because I prefer a more tender biscotti.  Also, the original recipe calls makes 24 huge biscotti – I would make them a bit smaller next time and have changed the recipe below to indicate that.  I also nixed brushing egg whites on top of the fully cooked biscotti log before drying them.  It felt unneccessary to me and mine were toally fine without it.

1 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cup blanched hazelnuts,  toasted and coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment.  In a small bowl whisk/sift the sugar, baking powder and salt until fluffy.  In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the eggs and sugar mixture together until it’s ribbony – about 45-60 seconds. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated – 5-10 seconds. Add one half of the flour and beat to combine.  Add the second half of the flour – mix until everything is just combined – about 30 seconds.  Add the nuts and chips (if using) on low speed, mix until evenly distributed.  Turn the dough out onto the parchment lined baking sheet and separate it.  Shape one log into a 12 inch log 2 inches across and 3/4 inch think.  Do the same thing with the other log on another baking sheet.  Bake the logs for 20-25 mins, until firm to the touch but not hard (I cooked mine about 18), then let them cool on the pan for 10 mins or so, until handle-able.  Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.  Cut the logs into 1/2-3/4 inch slices, however wide you like your biscotti, I’m more on the half inch side myself.  Lay the sliced biscotti back on the baking sheets cut sides up/down  and bake them for 20-25 mins, until they are firm (again if you want more tender biscotti don’t cook them as long on this step, 18 mins is what I did).  After the biscotti are cooked remove them from the oven and let them cool fro at least five minutes on the pan before transferring them to a wire rack.  Let the cookies cool completely before eating/storing them.  These will keep for about two weeks in  an airtight container.  They are fantastic dipped in a jar of Nutella for dessert.