Category Archives: Cookies

Chocolate Tarts with Peppermint Creme

Chocolate Tarts with Peppermint Creme

It is officially December and I am In. The. Spirit.  It feels a little early to be so excited for Christmas… but I am.  Maybe it is because my maternity leave is winding down and I am feeling the urge to play homemaker for as long as I can.  Or maybe it is because Thing 1 is old enough this year to really “get” what the Christmas season is all about.  Whatever it is, I am in the mood to make all kinds of Christmas goodies. 

Chocolate and cream, what's not to love?

I spent the last week looking for some new recipes to try.  In addition to the traditional stuff I always make, fudge, sugar cookies, etc., I wanted to find delicious things to add to my repertoire.  I came across fun treats like Bourbon Balls and Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Lemon Cream, and then I found the recipe for these tarts on a pull-out flyer from McCormick in one of my magazines. 

Chocolate ganache

Peppermint whipped cream

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These little tarts are perfect for the busy holiday season.  Not only are they delicious and pretty to look at, they are quick and easy to make.  The crispy phyllo tart shells contrasts nicely with the smooth chocolate ganache.  The mint creme on top adds a light finish.  Whip up a batch in less than half an hour and have an instant party treat or hostess gift.  To make storage easier, build and store the tarts in the plastic trays that the phyllo shells come in.  They keep for about a week in the refrigerator (though the shells lose some of their crispness over time) so you can make them when you have a few precious moments of free time. 

Mini phyllo shells

Chocolate Tarts with Peppermint Creme

Recipe from McCormick

Ingredients:

2 packages (15 shells each) frozen mini phyllo shells

1/3 cup plus 3/4 cup heavy cream, divided

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 tbls sugar, divided

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

extra chocolate or crushed peppermint candies for garnish (if desired)

To Make:

Bake phyllo shells in a 350 degree oven for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp.  Let cool completely.

Chop chocolate and place in a microwave safe bowl with 1/3 cup heavy cream.  Microwave on high for 1 minute, stirring briefly after 30 seconds.  After the minute in the microwave, stir until all the chocolate is melted and the cream and chocolate are thoroughly combined.  Cool until ganache is thickened slightly, about five minutes.  Spoon a scant teaspoon of ganache into each phyllo cup.  Allow to cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and 2 tbls of sugar until smooth.  In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to whip 3/4 cup of heavy cream, remaining two tbls of sugar, and peppermint extract until the cream holds stiff peaks.  Stir half the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until smooth.  Gently fold in remaining whipped cream.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of creme onto each tart.  Alternatively, use a piping bag and wide tip to pipe the creme onto each tart.  I found that I had creme left over.

To Serve:

Garnish with shaved chocolate and/or crushed peppermint candies if desired.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

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Bourbon Balls

Bourbon Balls

Thanksgiving is over but the marathon holiday season has only just begun.  If you are anything like me, you inevitably find yourself with a lot of things you want to do and a lot of (fun) commitments, but not a lot of time.  No matter how crunched for time I get, when the cookie bug bites, I have to respond.  Thankfully, I found this recipe for Bourbon Balls. 

Mmm, bourbon

These little gems whip up quickly, taste delicious, and only get better as they sit.  Plus, they have the added benefit of making you feel like you are having a nice stiff drink with your dessert.  And who doesn’t need a drink now and then during the holidays?

Making the balls

Bourbon Balls

Recipe from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1 cup plus 1/2 cup powdered sugar, divided

2 tbls unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa

1/4 cup bourbon (use the good stuff because it is the predominant flavor in the cookies)

2 tbls light corn syrup

2 1/2 crushed vanilla wafers (about 10 ounces of whole cookies)

1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

To Make:

Sift 1 cup of powdered sugar and the cocoa powder together into a medium bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together the bourbon and corn syrup until well blended.  Stir the bourbon mixture into the sugar and cocoa.

Crush the vanilla wafers in a food processor or by putting them into a plastic zip top bag and crushing with a rolling pin until the cookies are medium-fine crumbs.  Stir the cookies and pecans together and add them to the sugar and bourbon mixture until well combined.  The dough will be crumbly.

Using your hands, roll 1-inch balls of the mixture.  Don’t be afraid to work it a little bit to make sure the balls are stuck together.  Roll each ball in the remaining powdered sugar.

To Serve:

Makes approximately 40 balls.  Store at room temperature in an airtight plastic container with a layer of parchment or wax paper in between.  They will store for up to 3 weeks and get better as they age.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Quick, what do these things have in common: Halloween, October, harvest, November, Thanksgiving.  Give up?  The answer is pumpkin… pumpkin is associated in some way with all of these different times of the year.  In honor of October and Halloween just passing, the arrival of November, and looking forward to Thanksgiving, I want to share the recipe for one of my all time favorite cookies. 

Getting ready to fold in the chocolate chips

My mom used to make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies for us kids every year around pumpkin season.  So in addition to being delicious, these cookies are steeped in fond memories of Halloween and family Thanksgivings.  I have kept her original recipe pretty much intact.  I made a few tweaks to the spices (reduced the cinnamon, added some vanilla) and swapped out the vegetable shortening in favor of a mixture of butter and lard (fake fats scare me).  Otherwise, these cookies are just like I remember them… moist, cakey, and loaded with chocolate chips. 

Cookies ready for the oven

Make sure that you don’t over bake them.  They are supposed to be very moist and soft.  Bake them until they feel just set when you touch them gently with your finger.  They keep well, though they get a little sticky on top if they are in a closed container.  They are easy to put together so make sure to bake lots of them.  They are a real crowd pleaser during this time of year.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cloves

1/8 tsp allspice

5 tbls lard (you can use vegetable shortening)

3 tbls butter

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 15 oz can solid pack pumpkin (or about 1 lb fresh pumpkin, steamed until tender and pureed)

1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

To Make:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and spices and whisk well to combine.  In a large bowl (or in your stand mixer) cream the butter, lard, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat until light in color.  Beat in the vanilla and the pumpkin.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet in three batches, mixing until each batch is incorporated before adding the next (make sure to scrape down the work bowl occasionally).  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake in the 350 degree oven until just set, about 12-15 minutes.  Let the baked cookies sit on the sheet for 3-5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To Serve:

These cookies are tasty warm out of the oven but I think they are even better completely cooled because the chocolate chips provide a nice texture contrast to the rest of the cookie.  Store in a covered container at room temperature for about 3 days (if they make it that long).  Makes about 3 dozen.

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Filed under Baked goods, Cookies, Dessert, Recipes, Vegetarian