Monday, December 29, 2014

Flat and Chewy Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

Many years ago, even before Camden was born, I baked the most delicious cookies, from Ina's chocolate chip cookies recipe. She suggested baking two ways: flat and chewy cookies or bars. I baked the cookies and... oh wow... they were so buttery. For the first time, I declared that the chocolate chip cookies baked from real ingredients were better than store bought.

Since I figured out that Brek still has dairy intolerance, I changed Ina's chocolate chip recipe with dairy free substitute, coconut oil. But the cookies fell apart because the cookie texture was just too soft. It's been years that I've tested many chocolate chip cookies recipes to achieve that same buttery and chewy textures. But no luck... until now.

I bought a dessert cookbook called The Perfect Finish because I just luv the photographs of the sweets. Plus, each recipe is full of the real ingredients. I found the flat and chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe and the photograph of them. You could say that I had ants in my pants and just couldn't wait to test the recipe. The verdict? Let's just say that when I asked my kids if they wanted cookies for their afternoon snack, Brek said no. When I showed them the cookies, Camden said, "Ouuu that looks good." Brek agreed, "That does look good." And they gobbled them all up. Mission accomplished!!!

The original recipe asks for chopped walnuts, but I used chopped pecans. So I'm thinking any nut substitute should work. Probably even omit the nuts if you have nut allergy or just don't want them at all. I add the nuts for extra crunch and proteins. Plus, my kids luv pecans. I also omitted the granulated sugar because the cookies would be too sweet. I was right. The light brown sugar was plenty sweet.

Flat and Chewy Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies
adapted from The Perfect Finish's flat and chewy chocolate chip cookies
makes 18 cookies

1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (5.4 oz.) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (2 oz.) palm shortening
1 cup (4 oz.) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup chocolate chips (mix and match semi sweet to bitter sweet)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
  1. Place a nonstick mat or parchment paper on the baking tray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla extract, sugar, and palm shortening. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, chocolate chips, and pecans.
  4. Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture.
  5. Using a fork, mix both mixtures together until the cookie dough is formed.
  6. Using a small scooper, scoop the dough into a prepared pan.
  7. Freeze the cookie until firm, about an hour.
  8. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F degree.
  9. Place the cookie dough about 1 to 2 inch apart. NOTE: Remember that these cookies will spread out as they are baked.
  10. Bake in a preheated oven for 8 minutes.
  11. Using a spatula or a fork, flatten the cookies.
  12. Bake until crispy, about 3-5 minutes more.
  13. Allow the cookies to cool in the baking pan for 5 minutes. Then transfer them to a wiring rack to cool completely. Enjoy!!!
STORING: Keep the cookies in an air tight container at a room temperature for up to 3 days. The cookie dough freeze well, up to 6 months.

Allergy Info: These flat and chewy chocolate chip pecan cookies are free from dairy, corn, legumes (soy), and fish.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gingerbread Cookies (dairy-free)

While browsing through the aisle at Home Goods, I came across the Holiday cookie plunger cutter set that was... ready for this???... 70% off!!! So I had to have it. Then I had to find a way to use these cute cookie cutters. Since Camden's been asking for fresh baked cookies lately, I found the opportunity to put these cookie cutters to good use.

Last year, my modified gingerbread cookie recipe was loaded with butter. I never knew how to make shaped cookies without butter. But with months of baking without butter and with a little tweak, I came up with the dairy free version of the same gingerbread cookie recipe. Solution? Just replace butter with palm shortening. Yup that easy. While I was testing this recipe, I couldn't find ground clove in my pantry. Probably ran out and never replaced it. So I omitted it. Honestly, I couldn't tell that it was missing.

Since I use the cookie plunger cutters, each cookie has pattern imprinted on it. So there is no need for frosting. Cute and edible.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies, so be prepared to enjoy them, give them as gifts, or just freeze them up for future cravings. I actually baked fresh gingerbread cookies for my kids' breakfast several mornings. They had it with hot cocoa and homemade vanilla marshmallows. Cookies and hot cocoa with marshmallows for breakfast. I know. I spoil my kids rotten. (devilish smile)

Gingerbread Cookies (dairy-free)
makes a lot of cookies, depending on the size

1 egg, cold
1/4 cup (3 oz.) molasses
3/4 cup (5.3 oz.) sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz.) palm shortening
1 teaspoon ginger

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 (10 oz.) all-purpose flour, extra for dusting
Holiday cookie (plunger) cutters
  1. Place the egg, molasses, sugar, and shortening in a large bowl.
  2. Using a hand mixer, beat all of the ingredients until creamy.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and flour.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture.
  5. Whisk again with a hand mixer until the flour is no longer visible.
  6. Place the batter onto the nonstick matt.
  7. Knead until the dough ball is formed.
  8. Roll the dough out to a half inch thick. TIP: Dust the dough with extra flour so it is not sticky and easy to rotate. 
  9. Place a nonstick matt or parchment on the baking pan. Set aside.
  10. Place the all-purpose flour in a bowl. Dip the cookie cutters into the flour to ensure the dough won't stick onto the cookie cutters.
  11. Cut the cookie dough using different cookie cutters.
  12. Place the shaped cookie dough on to the prepared baking pan.
  13. Repeat the steps with the remaining dough. TIP: Cut out all of the cookie dough and keep them frozen for up to 3 months. Bake as directed.
  14. Freeze the dough for at least 30 minutes.
  15. When ready to bake, preheat the oven at 325°F degree.
  16. Line the baking pan with nonstick matt or a parchment paper.
  17. Place the shaped cookie dough on the prepared baking pan, making sure that they are an inch apart.
  18. Bake the cookies 10 minutes for small shaped cookie dough and 12 minutes for larger ones. NOTE: Keep in mind that if the cookies don't hold the shape well when baked, freeze the next batch longer before baking.
  19. Take the cookies out of the oven and let them rest on the baking pan for 10 minutes. Then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool complete. Enjoy!!!
STORING: Keep these gingerbread cookies in an air tight container at a room temperature for up to 3 days.

Allergy Info: This gingerbread cookie recipe is free from or can be made without dairy, corn, legumes (soy), nuts (not palm), and fish.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Chocolate Truffles (dairy-free)

Two years ago, I made chocolate truffles that had heavy cream and butter. They were easy to make and were very tasty. A few days ago, Brek wanted to eat chocolate truffles. Hmm... never really thought about making dairy free chocolate truffles, but okay... putting on a mad scientist's hat.

I used the same dairy chocolate truffles recipe but substitute the dairy with non dairy ingredients: coconut cream and shortening. You know what, I can't remember what the dairy ones tasted like. But these non dairy truffles were pretty darn creamy. Luv it!!!

I made these truffles just enough for my kids. Feel free to double or triple the recipe. Brek luvs his chocolate truffles plain. Camden likes a little crunch from the sprinkles. Feel free to roll them into cocoa powder, sprinkle them with chopped nuts or colorful sprinkles, or drizzle them with melted chocolate. Feeling adventurous... insert the chocolate truffles with wooden party forks and have yourself some chocolate truffle pops. How fun is that!!!

Chocolate Truffles (dairy-free)
adapted from William Sonoma’s Chocolate Truffles
makes 7

1/4 cup (2 oz.) coconut cream
2.5 oz. chocolate chips (dairy-free)
1 Tablespoon (0.5 oz.) palm shortening
  1. Add the coconut cream into a pot.
  2. Bring the cream to a soft boil (bubbles on the side).
  3. Turn off the heat.
  4. Stir in the chocolate and shortening.
  5. Whisk until the mixture develops a smooth texture.
  6. Transfer the ganache mixture to a bowl, cover, and place in a refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes.
  7. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking mat or parchment paper.
  8. Scoop generous tablespoonful of the chilled ganache.
  9. Roll it into a ball and place it on a prepared baking sheet. TIP: At this time, roll them into cocoa powder, sprinkle them with chopped nuts or colorful sprinkles, or drizzle them with melted chocolate.
  10. Refrigerate them for 10 minutes.
  11. Place the chocolate truffles into the mini cupcake liners or insert them with the wooden party forks. Enjoy!!!
STORING: Keep the chocolate truffles in the air tight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Allergy Info: These dairy-free chocolate truffles are free from or can be made without dairy, eggs, corn, legumes (soy), wheat, nuts (not palm), or fish.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Snowflake and Snowman... cookies and marshmallows

As I started writing this blog post about wintery sweets, there was a blizzard in the east coast. Snow, snow, and more snow. Everywhere. People were snowbound.

At first I felt a little envy. Living in south of Texas for so long, I kinda miss snow.

Every winter, I tried but failed to convince my husband to embark on a family winter trip. You know, just drive or fly into a city where there'd be lotsa snow.

I don't want to ski. I just want to sit indoor, looking out the window and enjoying the sight of white snow while sipping my hot coffee. I mean, if my family is outside building snowman, then I'd watch them do that... indoor. Well, I might put on a winter coat and join them. Seriously, I just want to see wintery white snow.

So the blizzard in the east coast was during the second week of November. The cold blasted its way south of Texas too. No snow... just very cold... well, 30's degree is a blizzard in Texas. My family and I luv the cold. My poor aunts came for a visit that week, and we ended up having a colder temperature here than in New York. (I convinced them that the weather here was warm and didn't get cold until after Thanksgiving. But I forgot to mention that I never trusted Texas weather.)

With snow in the news and with the cold breeze in the air, I was inspired to bake something sweeter. I baked my aunts all kinds of cookies, pastries, pies, cake, and bread. Brek told my aunts, "Mommy's baking is hard to resist." They agreed, and I could tell that they enjoyed the sweets.

After my aunts went back to New York, I felt a little bit lazy but still wanted to bake something wintery. So I tested the William Sonoma's Russian tea cake recipe. I kept this recipe in mind for a long while now and never got to test it until now. I made them into snowflakes. Very easy and very tasty.

About a few weeks later, I received the William Sonoma's Holiday catalogue. In it was a bag of snowflake marshmallows. If I can make a living making things out of marshmallow, I'd be rich. Got inspired and made my own, using my vanilla marshmallow recipe. My kids luv my homemade marshmallows so much that Brek even told Camden, "It's homemade so you can eat as much as you want." Well... not really... but ok.

Snowflakes Marshmallows
makes about 12, depending on the size

1 vanilla marshmallow recipe
a lot of powdered sugar
variety of snowflake cookie cutters
  1. Make the vanilla marshmallow as directed in the recipe.
  2. Spread the freshly whipped marshmallow on 6 by 8 pan for thick marshmallows or 8 square pan for thinner marshmallows.
  3. Once ready, cut the marshmallow using variety of snowflake cookie cutters. TIP: Cut the marshmallow into a small circle then dot it with melted chocolate to make snowman.
  4. Sprinkle the snowflake marshmallows with powdered sugar to prevent sticky. Enjoy!!!
STORING: Keep the snowflake or snowman marshmallows in an air tight container for up to a week.

Snow Flakes Cookies
adapted from William Sonoma's Russian Tea Cakes
makes 12-14

1/2 cup (2.5 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup (2 oz.) palm shortening
1/4 cup (1.5 oz.) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 (1.4 oz.) ground blanched almonds
1/4 cup (1 oz.) powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
snowflake plunger cookie cutter
  1. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick mat or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix it with your fingers until combine. NOTE: The cookie dough will be sticky. Use a fork if needed.
  3. Knead the dough in the bowl. Set aside.
  4. Sprinkle some flour onto the snowflake plunger cookie cutter. TIP: Use other Holidays plunger cookie cutters such as gingerbread boy or Christmas tree.
  5. Press the dough into the cookie cutter.
  6. Place the cookie cutter onto a prepared baking sheet and press out the snowflake cookie dough.
  7. Using a soft bristle pastry brush, dust off the flour on top of the snowflake dough.
  8. Repeat until all of the snowflakes cookie dough are formed. TIP: Remember to dust the cookie cutter with flour. If the dough is stuck onto the pattern of the plunger cutter, use a toothpick to clean it.
  9. Place the cookie dough in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  10. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325F degree.
  11. Bake the snowflake cookies in a preheated oven until golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes.
  12. Let cool in a baking sheet until the cookies are a room temperature.
  13. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar and enjoy.
STORING: Keep these snowflake cookies in an air tight container for up to 3 days. The snowflake cookie dough freeze well for up to 3 months. Bake as directed without defrosting.

Allergy Info: The snowflake and snowman marshmallows are free from or can be made without dairy, corn, legumes (soy), wheat, nuts, or fish. If you are allergic to eggs, use the maple syrup marshmallow recipe.

The snowflake cookies are free from or can be made without dairy, eggs, corn, legumes (soy), or fish.