January 25, 2012

Chocolate Orange Cookies

Orange is a new flavor for me. I'll admit it; fruits and vegetables aren't exactly my favorite foods. However, if you pair certain things with chocolate, I'm willing to eat it. When I saw this recipe for Chocolate Orange Cookies, I knew this was a great way to eat some citrus and satisfy my chocolate craving.

There are three different types of orange in these cookies: zest, juice, and candied orange peel. I happened to stumble upon candied orange peel at a store in New York City, but if you can't find it, simply search it on the internet. Basically, you dip strips of orange peel in sugar syrup and let it dry.

Oranges and chocolate both have the potential to be quite bitter, so you have to balance the flavors. If done right, these cookies will be sweet, tangy, and bitter. If not, you'll have bitter from the chocolate blended with a sour bitterness from the orange. I had to adjust the proportions of everything from the original recipe to fit my taste, so change the amounts of chocolate and/or orange if you want to.

2 Sticks Butter, Softened
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
Zest of 1 Orange
1 T Orange Juice
1/4 tsp Salt
1 oz Chopped Candied Orange Peel
1/3 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Cocoa

Combine the flour and the cocoa. Beat the butter and powdered sugar together. Add the salt, orange juice, and orange zest. Fold in the orange peel and chocolate chips. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.

Gather the dough into a ball and split in two. Roll each half into a 1" diameter, 9" long log. Wrap in plastic and chill for two hours.

Heat oven to 350F. Line cookie trays with parchment.

Slice the logs into 1/4" thick slices. Bake for 15 minutes or until set.

Makes 50
Recipe Adapted from

January 16, 2012

Strawberry White Chocolate Mousse Tart

Ok, so I really shouldn't be posting this in January, but this tart is absolutely fantastic. It is totally worth splurging on fresh berries, and it tasted even better when I made it over the summer with berries I had picked literally hours before. It is composed of buttery, flaky pie crust, sweet, fluffy white chocolate mousse, and succulent strawberries.

It is crucial that you use fresh strawberries in this recipe. I love using frozen fruit in smoothies, muffins, and some other baked goods, but strawberries are the star of this tart. Frozen berries tend to be somewhat deformed in addition to being extremely juicy, and those juices will ruin the pristine white mousse. Furthermore, since the strawberries are so prominent, you want to taste the freshness and the vibrance that only fresh berries have.

The original recipe was topped with a sticky strawberry glaze, but, after reading the reviews, I decided not to include it. The acidity broke down the mousse, and I didn't think that was worth the bit of extra flavor it added. If you want to risk it, simply melt down some strawberry jam in a small saucepan and add some lemon juice and sugar to taste.

As for the mousse, the recipe uses white chocolate. However, you can use milk or dark chocolate instead. The white will show off the colorful berries, but who doesn't like a dark chocolate covered strawberry? The bitterness plays off of the sweet tartness of the berries quite nicely. All chocolate is delicious, so use what you have or what you prefer.

If you use white chocolate in particular, I like to melt a few ounces and spread it on the crust once the crust cools but before adding the mousse. White chocolate has such a subtle flavor that the tart could definitely use an extra layer. It also protects the crust from the moisture of the mousse, so your crust stays crisp and flaky for hours.

I use my go-to pie crust recipe for this; it is buttery and flaky and SO good! If you use dark or milk chocolate, you can make a chocolate pie crust to boost the flavor. Simply use 1/4 cup of cocoa and 1 cup flour instead of 1 1/4 cups flour.

1 1/4 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Stick Butter, Chilled
1 Egg Yolk
2 Egg Whites
10 oz White Chocolate
1 1/4 Cups Cream, Chilled
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar
1 lb Fresh Strawberries

Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until small pieces remain. Combine the egg yolk with a tablespoon of cold water and add to the mixture. Pulse until just cohesive, adding more water as necessary. Chill.

Heat oven to 375F. Grease a 9-11" round tart pan and a sheet of foil.

Roll out the dough to fit the prepared pan and press gently to adhere. Press the foil, greased-side down, onto the dough and fill with pie weights (dried beans or peas work if you don't have any). Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until golden, about 5 minutes more. Cool.

Melt 3 oz chocolate and spread over the cooled crust.

Combine 7 oz chocolate and 1/4 cup cream in a glass bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water and whisk until melted. Remove from the water and cool. Whip remaining cream and vanilla in a bowl until stiff peaks form.

In a new, clean bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff. Fold into the chocolate, then fold in the whipped cream. Pour into the cooled crust and spread to an even thickness. Chill until firm.

Meanwhile, wash and hull the strawberries. Slice thinly and place on the chilled mousse.

Makes 1 Tart
Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit

January 15, 2012

Orange-Almond Biscotti

This has got to be one of my favorite biscotti recipes. For those of you who have never made it, biscotti is an italian cookie that is baked in a loaf, sliced, then baked again. Biscotti means twice baked, so expect a very crunchy cookie. They are great with tea, coffee, or simply dipped in chocolate! These cookies are filled with bright bits of orange zest and crunchy nuggets of almonds. They make wonderful gifts, but they also stay fresh for about a week if you want to eat them all (don't feel too guilty because they are almost fat free!).

2 Cups Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 Stick Butter, Softened but Cool
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Almond Extract
3/4 Cup Whole Almonds with Skins
2 T Orange Zest

Toast the almonds. Once cool, chop coarsely.

Heat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Stir in the almonds and zest. Fold in the dry ingredients.

Halve the dough and turn both portions onto the prepared tray. Quickly form each into roughly 13x2" loaves. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through.

Cool the loaves for 10 minutes and lower the oven temperature to 325F. Slice into 3/8" thick slices, then bake for 15 minutes. They will harden more as they cool.

Makes 36
Recipe Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

January 7, 2012

White Chocolate Cranberry Bars

Anyone who has been to Starbucks has seen and tried their delectable White Chocolate Cranberry Bars. They are delicious, and I currently have a truckload of cranberry products in my house leftover from the holidays. This is an excellent way to use them up, and they will be devoured in minutes. The bars consist of blondies with white chocolate and cranberries covered with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting. To top it all off, they are sprinkled with more cranberries and drizzled with even more white chocolate. The tartness of the cranberries pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the white chocolate. If you love oranges, try adding some orange zest to the batter. They are fairly simple to make and they taste amazing!

1 1/2 Sticks Butter
1 1/2 Cups Light Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
3/4 tsp Vanilla
2 1/4 Cups Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Cinnamon
1 Cup Dried Cranberries
2 Cups White Chocolate Chips
8 oz Cream Cheese, Softened
1 Cup Powdered Sugar

Heat oven to 350F. Line a 9x13" pan with parchment and grease.

Melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer and cool to room temperature. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and gradually add to the butter mixture. Fold in 1/2 cup cranberries and 1 cup white chocolate.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 18-21 minutes or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar together. Melt the remaining white chocolate and add half to the mixture. Spread onto the blondes and sprinkle with remaining cranberries. Drizzle with remaining white chocolate.

Makes 24
Recipe Adapted from Lori Lange of

January 2, 2012

Trail Mix Cookies

It's 2012, and it's time for New Year's Resolutions! "I want to eat healthier" is a ubiquitous phrase, but it doesn't necessarily mean tofu and protein shakes. By making simple switches, you can save a ton of calories without sacrificing much. These Trail Mix Cookies will satisfy your sweet tooth, and they are full of oats, coconut, raisins, and peanuts. You can change the ingredients as long as you keep the basic flavors and ratios, so try them with other dried fruits and nuts. I will also sometimes substitute whole wheat flour for about half the all-purpose listed. There is so little cookie dough in the cookies because of the oats, fruits, and nuts that you won't taste the difference. For more recipes to assist you in your pursuit of sticking to your New Year's Resolutions, check out PopCosmo.

1/2 Stick Butter, Softened
1/4 Cup Shortening
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 tsp Baking Soda, dissolved in
1 T Warm Water
1/2 Cup + 2 T Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 Cups Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
1/3 Cup Roasted Peanuts
2/3 Cup Raisins

Preheat oven to 375F and line cookie trays with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and shortening; beat in the brown sugar. Add the egg, baking soda solution, flour, salt, and vanilla, stirring well after each addition. Stir in the oats, coconut, chocolate chips, peanuts, and raisins.

Scoop the dough into 30g balls. Place them on the cookie trays and flatten slightly. Bake 10-12 minutes or until browned.

Makes 28
Recipe Adapted from Gourmet