Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Scary Cookies

This week will end with Halloween. Many parties already happened last weekend. I came across a recipe that by the looks of it instantly inspired me to make it --- soft cookies with candy corn! When I stood in front of the many varieties of candy corn at Target, original, pumpkin, marshmallow and fruit loop, I picked up the fruit loop ones. The pink tones looked extra cheerful.
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The basic recipe is just like other soft, chewy cookies, with an addition of cornstarch or instant vanilla pudding mix (which is also basically flavored cornstarch). I stay pretty close to the recipe, and baked the first batch.
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However, after 12 minutes of baking the cookies looked like this.
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Flattened and the candy corn had melted out of the cookies. Ouch! I let them cool for 9 minutes, and the melted candy corn could be scraped off the silplat liner, and the creation of cookies/candy was ready. But that was not really the plan….. it was more of a Franken-cookie.
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I read the instructions again, and it had a 1/2 cup more flour than I used, and it asked for ‘chill the cookies for 3 hours before baking’. So, I did.
The next batch looked better.
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Still, the cookies are pretty tricky. As long as there is candy corn on the bottom or the side of a cookie it is likely to melt. It might be better to make the dough and press a few candy corn on top of the cookie ball before baking them.
Taste? Fabulous!!
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Candy Corn Softbatch Cookies
1/2 cup/1 stick unsalted butter, soften
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 1/2 cups candy corn (1o to 11 ounces)
1 cup white chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl and electric hand mixer), cream together the butter, sugars, egg, vanilla extract and crème fraiche on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda and pudding mix.
  3. Put speed on low, and slowly added the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute; don't overmix.
  4. Add the white chocolate chips, and mix until just incorporated. (No candy corn yet!)
  5. Using a small icecream scoop, (or any size of icecream scoop you like based on the size of the cookies you would like to make) form heaping 1 – 1 1/2 –tablespoon sized mounds.
  6. Press about 3 candy corn inside of the cookie dough ball.
  7. Place mounds on a large plate, and slightly flatten mounds. Cover the mounds with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before baking. 
  8. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper. Place mounds on baking sheet, ca. 8 cookies per cookie sheet, and bake for about 9 minutes. Do not overbake since the cookies will firm up as they cool. Baking longer than 10 minutes will make cookies spread too thin, the candy corn getting contact with the cookie sheet and starting to melt.
  9. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for about at least 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooking. They will be sticky because of the slightly melted candy corn.
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Happy Halloween!



Friday, October 24, 2014

Wet cobblestone

It has been raining for 3 days. Solid rain showers make the last loose hanging colorful leaves finally fall to the ground, and the streets look littered with yellow and brown spots, the trees look half naked, like, somehow, unhappy chickens who got into a fight.

The weather report says that the sun will be back this afternoon. This would be nice, because the weekend is on our door steps, and three days of rain is enough.

It's been another very busy week, busy in very different ways, and today there is more of the same, and tying up other loose ends. JCrew tells me they have new items and particularly I should look out for Donald Robertson who doodles a lot, publishes on Instagram, and is discovered by JCrew. Now, he doodles on tees, and I am tempted.



















But I am also tempted by this beautiful metro coat, which I already own in antique linen, and now wonder if I should rather have it in wet cobblestone.


But I am also in love with the turquoise peacoat. Or the cream colored vest. I created a wishlist, and now I have the secret dream some prince will find it and send me all the items. Or that JCrew does a secret lottery and sends some lucky customers all the things in their wishlist. Oh well. I better only wish for sunshine this afternoon.



Monday, October 20, 2014

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate Seeds

The weekend took me to Trader Joes, and it is the time of the year again when TJ sells the picturesque and inexpensive Brussels sprouts, right on the stem. $2.99 for about 2 pounds of Brussels in a scenic package? Here, please! Last weekend, a friend of mine brought me a regular and an organic pomegranate, right from her garden in California. Lunch brought both together in an epic package---- roasted oven-roasted Brussels sprouts (which looked a bit more like kale chips once roasted), goat cheese crumbles (also restocked from TJ), pomegranate seeds and balsamic vinaigrette. Fabulous!

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The little pomegranate is the home-grown, organic one.

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Crispy roasted Brussels sprouts.

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Roasted Brussels Sprout salad with goat cheese and pomegranate seeds (2 servings)

  • 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, cleaned and cut in half
  • 1 drizzle of olive oil
  • 1/2 medium sized red onion, diced
  • 5 baby portabella button mushrooms, sliced
  • another drizzle of olive oil
  • balsamic vinaigrette
  • 2-4 TB goat cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Heat the oven to 400F. Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil and distribute with a silicone brush. Halve the Brussels Sprouts and roast for ca. 15-20 min. They should be brown on the outside and cooked/tender on the inside.

On the brussels are roasted, heat a pan with another drizzle of olive oil, saute the onion and mushroom until the onions are brown and the mushrooms charred and cooked. Add about a cup of the roasted brussels sprouts to the pan, add some salt and combine the flavors.

Serve with pomegranate seeds, goat cheese crumbles and balsamic vinaigrette.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Easy and fast chili in the rice cooker

It is still warm outside, but fall is the time for chilis.  I tried a very tasty, fast and healthy version with dried beans cooked in the neuro-fuzzy rice cooker really quickly. It has a ‘keep warm’ option and it cooked perfectly on the normal rice setting without needed to soak the beans overnight. I used small beans, a half can of pureed pumpkin, 2 dried ancho chilis, espresso and chocolate, some garlic and bouillon. After it cooked in the rice cooker, I sauted an onion, corn and a hot pepper in a pan and added the cooked chili to add in the charred onion flavor. – Fabulous! And just enough for 2-3 smaller servings. Or 2 hungry people.
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Easy and fast chili in the rice cooker
  • 1 cup of small dried white and/or black beans
  • 2 dried ancho chilis, stem removed
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (or instant coffee)
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 can of pureed pumpkin
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1.5 teaspoon bouillon mix
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
Place the dried beans in the rice cooker. In a blender, add the water, garlic clove, and cut the anchos into smaller pieces with a scissors. Add the pumpkin, espresso and cocoa, and mix all the ingredients until the anchos are really fine-grained. Add the mix to the beans in the rice cooker, and the bouillon mix, close rice cooker and cook on white rice setting. The beans cook slightly softer if the ‘keep warm’ option is used and the ‘cooking time’ is overall about 1h.
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In a saute pan, heat the butter and brown the onion. Add the bell pepper and corn, and saute for about 10min (or until soft). Add the cooked chili mix from the rice cooker, and mix all through, and cook for another 5min. Adjust for salt and pepper. Enjoy!
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