Saturday, December 17, 2011

Basic Thumbprint Cookie

Sometimes you collect several recipes for the same type of cookie.  You find one that might be better than the one before but never quite right.  There are several cookies that fit that profile for me.  One of which is the ever-famous thumbprint cookie.  They come out too hard, too soft, too crumbly, or just plain old dry.  I am happy to report I believe I have found the one!  This will be my official thumbprint cookie recipe.
This cookie has all of the basic ingredients but I think there are three big pluses for this cookie.  First, this cookie seems to have the perfect balance of the ingredients.  The texture of the cookie has a slightly crisp bite with a moist tender center and still have that melt in your mouth quality of a butter cookie.  The second plus is the fact that the recipe only calls for egg yolks instead of the whole eggs.  This also produces a moist tender cookie.  The third is that instead of filling them with jam, I used the Solo brand of fillings.  I found that you could fill the cookie and then bake them incorporating more of the flavor.

In making this recipe I used a few different combinations but you can only imagine the endless possibilities.  One cookie is rolled in finely chopped almonds and filled with raspberry filling.  Another is rolled in a sugar and cocoa combination and filled with almond filling.  The third is rolled in yellow sugar and filled with lemon  curd.  The final cookie is rolled, again, in finely chopped almonds and filled with apricot filling. 
Basic Thumbprint Cookies

2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup finely chopped nuts, sprinkles, coconut, etc.
1/3 to 1/2 cup Solo filling (almond, apricot, raspberry, etc.)

1.  In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar.  Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally.  Beat in egg yolks and vanilla until combined.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer.  Stir in any remaining flour.  Cover and chill for about 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.

2.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease cookie sheets.  Shape dough into a 1-inch ball.  Roll each ball in egg whites and then the nuts, sprinkles, coconut, etc.  Using your thumb, make an indentation in each dough ball.  Add 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of filling to each cookie indentation.  Place pan in refrigerator and chill for at least 15 minutes before baking.

3.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes.  Check at approximately 9 minutes.  Bottoms and edges should be lightly golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.  These cookies should be served immediately but can be frozen.  Place a layer of plastic wrap lightly over each layer of cookies in container.  Freeze.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

Well, who doesn't like chocolate?  Especially at holiday time!  Nothing better than the smell of melted chocolate wafting through the kitchen.  In our house, we love it.  Kevin is also a huge fan of anything raspberry.  So when I found this recipe for Chocolate Raspberry Truffles, it was a no-brainer.
Quite simply, there are very few ingredients and steps that are simple and easy to follow.  Anyone who knows how to use a wooden spoon can make these.  This is a great recipe to enlist the help of kids, since the most time consuming step in making these is rolling them into balls.
The taste of chocolate is enhanced by the slightest taste of coffee with the addition of instant coffee crystals. It adds a bit of depth to the chocolate.  The use of the raspberry preserves along with chocolate is a natural pairing.  However, I can see these made with strawberry, orange, or apricot.  I am thinking another variation would be the slightest addition of brandy to put a kick into them.  
Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

½        cup evaporated milk
¼        cup sugar
1          11 ½ ounce package milk chocolate chips
¼        cup seedless raspberry preserves
½        tablespoon instant coffee granules
¾        cup finely chopped almonds, toasted

1.  In a large heavy saucepan, combine milk and sugar.  Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat; boil and stir for 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat; stir in chocolate chips, preserves and coffee until mixture is smooth.  Chill until firm.  Cover and store in the refrigerator.

2. Roll into 1-inch balls; roll into almonds.  Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets.  Chill until firm.  Cover and store in the refrigerator.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Camrones al Ajillo - Garlic Shrimp

Well, this is a first folks!  For anyone who has followed this blog with any regularity, they will notice the absence of any seafood.  Typically, I do not cook seafood because Kevin does not eat it.  So I will only cook it when he is not home.

Just over a month ago, we took in a wonderful 19-year old young man (named Kevin, as well) who was forced out of his home.  He has made a wonderful addition to our family AND he loves seafood!  So, I promised him some meals would be seafood when Kevin would work late.

I asked the young Kevin to take a look at three recipes and pick one.  Being from Mexico, our young border chose this recipe.  I must say it contained a minimal number of ingredients but packed a terrific punch!  Do not be afraid of the 10 (yes, ten) garlic cloves.  The only addition I made to this recipe was a seeded/chopped jalapeno.

Let's just say there was a pound of shrimp served over a bed of yellow Spanish rice.  There were NO leftovers!  If you like shrimp and are looking for something easy to make.  This is the recipe for you!

Camarones al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp)

1  tablespoon olive oil
1/4  cup butter
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1  jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced (omit if you do not like the heat)
1  pound fresh large shrimp, shelled and de-veined (I used frozen pre-cooked)
1/2 cup canned tomato, diced with juices
1  tablespoon dried parsley
1/4  teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1.  Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat.

2.  Stir in the bell pepper and onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.

3.  Stir in the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.  Add the shrimp and cook until opaque, about 2 minutes on each side.

4.  Stir in the tomato sauce, parsley, and red pepper flakes, and cook until tomato sauce is warmed through, about 5 minutes.

5.  Season with salt and pepper.