Monthly Archives: January 2013

Sparkling Ginger Cookies

Sometimes life calls for baking.  When I get stressed from job interviews and trying for the fifth time to make a doctor’s appointment, stepping back to measure, mix, and roll cookie dough in sugar helps bring the chaos of my life back under control.  Running through the hills also helps.  I captured this lovely image on my iphone while hitting the slopes yesterday.  Something about these trees and the early morning makes me feel calm even when I’ve got Sonic Youth pumping though my earbuds and I’m charging up an impossibly steep road.

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I was looking for a recipe with a twist when I came across Heidi’s recipe for ginger cookies with chocolate–a surefire win to any cookie is the addition of chocolate.  Armed with two types of ginger and a healthy chunk of a Trader Joe’s pound plus bar, I set to baking and making my apartment smell like Christmas.  These cookies are chewy because of the brown sugar and crunchy from being coated in turbinado sugar.  They are dark from the chocolate and molasses and refreshing from the ginger.  They are the perfect compliment to a cup of tea after dinner–or coffee if you can handle your caffeine at night.  I, for one, cannot and stick to decaf after four o’clock.

Sparkling Ginger Cookies 

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate–chopped

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking soda

4 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup unsulphured molasses

2/3 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)

1 tbsp fresh grated ginger

1 large egg beaten

Start by preheating the oven to 350°F and preparing two baking sheets by covering them in parchment paper.  Place the turbinado sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and ground ginger in a large mixing bowl and set aside.  Melt the butter in a medium sized pot on the stove until just melted, then remove from the heat and stir in the brown sugar, fresh ginger, and molasses.  Make sure that the mixture is not still piping hot and then mix in the egg.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix until just incorporated.  Fold in the chocolate chunks.  Scoop out tablespoon-sized portions of dough and roll in the turbinado sugar, covering each ball of dough completely in the sparkling sugar.  Place cookies on the cookie sheets two to three inches apart.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time.  The cookies are done when they are slightly puffy and the edges are set.  Allow to cool on the baking sheets and enjoy!

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Makes approximately two dozen cookies.

Recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Jam Studded Blondies

One thing I miss about college is the proximity of friends and the ability to text during class to meet for lunch in an hour. I took for granted my flexible schedule and being able to hang out with friends every day even if going out just meant sneaking in snacks and coffee into the library to cram for midterms together. Fortunately, when we scattered after graduation, many of my friends ended up in the same general area of California as me so I can still see them on occasion. This past weekend a few of us were free for lunch so we decided to grab food in the city.

Deciding where to eat is a difficult task for three indecisive girls–especially in a hub of delicious eateries. Somehow it usually gets pushed to me to make a decision, possibly because I am terrible at the “nose game,” but today my friend took charge and decided on Burma Superstar. I hadn’t eaten there before but I had heard only good things about the food. Judging from the spicy aromas clouding the entryway and the apparent but bearable line of people awaiting tables, it was a good choice (and worth the wait!). We decided on three entrees–a soup, a salad, and a tofu eggplant dish–and shared them. All three were delicious and though the crowded restaurant was bustling, we managed to catch up between mouthfuls of eggplant curry.

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Not wanting to show up empty-handed, I made blondies to bring to my friend’s apartment. I baked a lot during college. It was a good way to de-stress and bringing cookies to study groups generally resulted in friendship…or bewildered looks when I showed up with a truckload of tupperware containers. I was searching for a recipe that would be low-key and called for ingredients that I had on hand. Lucky for my friends and me, Joy’s Brittle and Jam Blonde Brownies fit the bill. Chewy and tasting slightly of caramel, they are everything that a blondie should be. The swirls of jam take them up a notch but don’t make them overly sweet. It’s a delicate line with blondies and sweetness, but I think these have just the right amount. Even after our three course meal, we still had room for a few blondies!


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Jam Studded Blondies

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp of baking powder

1/4 tsp of baking soda

1/4 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon

1/2 cup of unsalted butter (1 stick)

1 cup of packed light-brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1/3 cup of jam (I used Crofter’s superfruit spread in the North America variety–it was really tasty!)

Prep: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper and then butter/flour the parchment paper–these extra steps have a huge payoff after baking because the blondies come out of the pan easily and the cleanup is cake!

Start off by mixing the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Then melt the butter in a medium sized pot on the stove. Add the brown sugar to the melted butter and mix to combine. Allow the butter/sugar mixture to cool before adding in the egg and vanilla–and then mix those into the batter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just incorporated then pour into your prepared pan. Add the jam to the top of the batter in three dollops and use a knife to swirl in, then bake for approximately 20-23 minutes. The top should be a golden brown and the edges will pull away from the pan slightly when the blondies are done. I also used the toothpick method to check that the center was fully baked. Allow to cool in the pan on a rack–slice and enjoy!

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Recipe from Joy the Baker

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Chocolate-Chocolate-Chip-Coconut Cookies (Gluten-Free)

I started out the new year reading Eat & Run by Scott Jurek (a book I devoured in two days and one that I recommend) and promised myself that 2013 would be full of awareness of the food that I put into my body. The book is inspiring–it made me think of all the processed foods I usually consume and how when I do consciously eat better, and more locally, I feel better. I think more clearly. I feel lighter on my morning runs. And then after finishing a chapter at a coffee shop what did I do? I ran across the street to the grocery store, then promptly went home and baked these awesome cookies. So much for limiting my sugar intake…

In reality, I do hope that in 2013 I will be more aware of the foods that I’m eating but I’m not going to cut out sweets or processed foods entirely. I love chocolate way too much for that nonsense.

I went into baking these with the idea that they would taste like the cookie I bought on a whim at a Nabolom Bakery a few days prior. I hit up the bakery late in the day so there was a limited selection of sweets left behind the case. There were, however, a large platter of gluten-free chocolate cookies lying by the register so I thought, why not? They were chocolate after all and it’s hard to go wrong with that. The guy working the counter smiled and said they were his favorite but there were so many left at the end of the day that I thought he was probably just trying to make conversation. I was wrong. These cookies are amazing. The lack of flour makes them have an intense chew and the chopped walnuts add a richness that is balanced nicely by the sweet chocolate. In short, I have found a new favorite.

I used pecans in my cookies because that’s what I had on hand but I think any nut would work well (the original recipe calls for almonds). These cookies have all of the same qualities that I love in Nabolom’s. Plus they taste just as good even a day or two after baking as they do right out of the oven!

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Chocolate-Chocolate-Chip-Coconut Cookies (Gluten-Free)

3 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted)

3/4 cup natural cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chopped pecans (toasted)*

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

4 large egg whites @ room temperature

*Preheat your oven to 350°F and spread out pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake pecans for approximately ten minutes, stirring once during the baking process and keeping a close eye on them towards the end of the baking time to ensure that they do not burn. Set pecans aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk together. Add the pecans, chocolate chips, and coconut and stir into the mixture. Mix in the egg whites until combined but be sure not to overmix the batter. Drop the cookies onto a parchment paper-covered baking sheets in rounded tablespoons approximately two inches apart.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. Allow to cool on the baking sheets and enjoy!

Makes approximately two dozen cookies.

Adapted from Shutterbean

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