Chocolate & Molasses Chip Cookies

There is a never ending quest of the perfect chocolate chip cookie. The trick though, is that this distinction purely depends on personal tastes. Do you prefer chewy, crunchy, soft, hard, bite size, cake like, semi-sweet, or dark chocolate? With or without nuts?

Each recipe has it’s own slight variation, so here’s another one to add to the books.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 8 ounces molasses chips, crushed

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating one egg before adding the other.
  5. Mix in the vanilla extra.
  6. Add the flour mixture from Step 1 and mix to combine.
  7. Stir in the chocolate chips and molasses chips.
  8. Using a one-inch cookie scoop, portion out the cookie dough on a baking sheet, ensuring that there is at least one inch of space between each cookie.
  9. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, until golden brown.

Notes:

  • Most cookies, including this one, benefits from a quick chill in the fridge. Why? Adding the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mixing/kneading it causes the creation of gluten. Over-mixing flour can make more gluten which, in turn, can make the cookie tough. Letting the cookie dough rest for an hour or two before baking gives the protein structure a chance to break down, creating a softer cookie.
  • Additionally, letting the cookie dough rest allows the flavors to meld  together. Think of it like marinating a steak. Letting the spices set into the meat is beneficial to adding flavor. Why should a cookie be any different?
  • The molasses chips melt upon baking, but the flavor it leaves behind is noteworthy. For some, however, this may make the cookie too sweet. Try using half a box of molasses chips instead if you want something lighter.

Green Tea Shortbread Cookies

Green Tea Shortbread Cookies

This Martha Stewart cookie has been on my radar for some time, but for whatever reason I lagged in giving the recipe a try. Anything green tea usually catches my attention- pocky, kit kats, ice cream, tea lattes, etc.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons green tea powder (matcha powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
  • 1 bag mini white chocolate chips

Steps:

  • Using the mixer’s paddle attachment, cream the butter until fluffy.
  • Add sugar and continue to beat until the mixture turns lighter in color.
  • Add in flour, green tea powder, and salt. Combine on low until the flour is just incorporated.
  • Add in the white chocolate chips and mixed until combined.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Portion out the dough into ping pong sized balls on to a baking sheet. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, until firm.

Notes:

  • Finished cookies are still soft out of the oven. If you’re the type that likes to transfer the cookies right away to a wire rack for cooling, it may be worth it to wait a few minutes for the cookies to settle a bit. I had trouble transferring some pieces, but after 5-10 minutes of cooling on the baking sheet, the cookies were more firm and easier to transfer.
  • As typical with shortbread, this cookie is crumbly. You could say that it melts in your mouth (and sometimes in your hands too).
  • Feeling fancy? The dough can be rolled out and used to cut shapes. The original recipe suggests using leaf shaped cutters. Admittedly, my own final product isn’t the most visually appealing, but sometimes rolling out dough is more trouble than it’s worth.
  • The original recipe can be found here.

Kahlua Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts. Early memories include indulging in Cheesecake Factory’s classic Strawberry Cheesecake, specially bought for my brother and I whenever we’d visit framily in Los Angeles. And this was before the restaurant became synonymous with shopping malls across America.

Another favorite was Marie Callenders’ Kahlua Cream Cheese Pie. It’s not a true cheesecake, but it evokes the same type of memory. Eating a slice was always a treat.

DSC_0270

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup crushed cookie crumbs
  • 16 ounces (2 packages) cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Kahlua

Steps:

  • Combine the melted butter and crushed cookie crumbs in a bowl.
  • Press the cookie mixture into a 9-inch springform pan to form a crust.
  • Whip the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
  • Beat eggs into the cream cheese mixture to combine.
  • Pour half the cream cheese mixture into the pan.
  • Beat the Kahlua into the remaining cream cheese mixture, then pour into the pan.
  • Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, until the center is set.

DSC_0271Notes:

  • I wish the cheesecake wasn’t so flat. I suppose this is an inevitable result when following a recipe for a cream cheese pie. But still, I’d imagine a solution for this is to either use a smaller pan or double the filling recipe.
  • To get the swirls, I squeezed some chocolate syrup on top of the cream cheese mixture and ran a knife through to get some design before baking.
  • I found the final product to be a bit dry, a bit lacking in the overall cream cheese flavor. A few other guinea pigs taste testers, didn’t agree with my assessment so I’m honestly not sure what to conclude.
  • The original recipe can be found here.

Mini Lamingtons

A co-worker of mine was recently reminded of a childhood treat she used to enjoy while growing up on Fiji. Ever so subtly, she sent me a link, and during the following weekend I found myself busy in the kitchen.

Mini Lamingtons 2

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled

For the icing:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

For assembly:

  • 6 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut

Directions:

For the cake:

  • Preheat oven oven to 350˚F.
  • With a stand mixer on medium to high, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale and thick, about 3 minutes.
  • Sift the flour and baking power into the bowl and mix to combine.
  • Gradually add the melted butter, about 1/3 at a time, gently mixing until fully combined.
  • Grease a 9 x 12 inch pan and pour in the batter.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Turn cake onto a wire rack to cool.
  • Cut cake into even, bit-sized pieces about an inch square. At this stage the cake can be refrigerated for a few hours or left out overnight in an airtight container. A slightly less fresh cake will be easier to dip in the chocolate icing.

For the icing:

  • In a large saucepan, over low to medium heat, melt the butter then mix in the milk.
  • Whisk in the cocoa powder, stirring until completely dissolved.
  • Next, add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, also whisking until fully dissolved to prevent clumps.

For assembly:

  • Set up an area large enough to accommodate bowls for the cake pieces, the chocolate icing, the coconut and also a large tray topped with parchment paper and a cooling rack.
  • Using a fork, dip the cake cubes into the chocolate mix and roll them around to completely coat. Drain any excess mixture off the cakes then drop them in the coconut and roll them around lightly to coat evenly with coconut.
  • Set the cake cubes on the cooling rack placed over parchment paper to drain. You can refrigerate the cakes to help set the icing, then bring them to room temperature before serving.

Mini Lamingtons 1

Notes:

  • The original recipe can be found here.
  • Tempering chocolate is one of my least favorite things to do in the kitchen, but admittedly, it does get easier with practice. The key is to keep a vigil and stir constantly so the chocolate doesn’t burn.
  • There are different variations of this treat floating around the interweb. One variation I tried was a jam filled one, which was absolutely delicious. Just try to pick a jam that’s complimentary to the chocolate and coconut (like a berry flavor).