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Molasses Spice Cookies

This is a recipe from “Cooks Illustrated” dating back over 20 years. They’re my go-to autumn cookie. I’ll make these before chocolate chip, or oatmeal. They are flavorful without being overly sweet. Tender without being cloying. You can double the recipe, it’ll still fit in a standard Kitchen-Aid mixer bowl. The dough also freezes well. Shape the cookies into balls before freezing and you can thaw and bake a few at a time.

Molasses Spice Cookies

Ingredients

2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt, plus additional 1/4 tsp for rolling
12 tbsp (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup white sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling
1/3 cup packed brown sugar (dark is better)
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses.

Instructions

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375. Line two baking sheets with parchment (or Silpat sheet liners). Put 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp salt in a wide, shallow bowl for rolling.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, spices and salt, set aside.

In a stand mixer, beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add brown and white sugars, beat until incorporated. Reduce speed to medium, add egg yolk and vanilla. Beat until incorporated. Reduce speed to medium low, add molasses and beat until incorporated, pausing to scrape down sides. add flour/spice mixture, beat on lowest setting until incorporated, roughly 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

cookie factoryUsing a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon measure, scoop a heaping tablespoon of dough. Roll between your palms into a 1-1/2″ ball. Drop ball in rolling sugar, roll to coat, and set on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough , spacing the balls 2″ apart. (Note: if you want to freeze these, roll them, don’t sugar them, bag them and freeze them at this point).

Bake one sheet at a time,  until the cookies are set on the edges, but still look slightly puffy in the centers (this will keep them tender and chewy), approximately 11 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through cooking to ensure even baking.

Transfer cookie sheet to a cooling rack, let the cookies rest for five minutes or so, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes approximately 24 cookies.

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Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pecan Tea Bread

This is a nice autumnal change from pumpkin spice… everything. If you want a vegan version, swap out the butter for coconut oil. The lack of gluten makes this crumblier than a typical tea bread, so be gentle when cutting it.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked sweet potato, mashed coarsely, approximately 8 small sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups gluten free flour (spelt flour, or King Arthur gluten free flour)
  • 2-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks) or equal amount coconut oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coconut flakes (preferably unsweetened).

Cook, peel, and mash the sweet potatoes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, lightly grease a 9 x 5″ loaf pan.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, soda, powder and salt.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. add the sugar and brown sugar, beat until well incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium, until well mixed. Add the sweet potato and vanilla and beat until just mixed. Gradually add the flour, beating on low until just incorporated. Fold in the nuts. Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean, 60 – 80 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.

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Maple Shortbread Cookies

Sugaring season starts in mid-February in Vermont, and lasts until the trees bud. Showing up with a plate of these maple shortbread cookies to a “Sugar on Snow” dinner isn’t a bad idea. The maple isn’t overpowering, and the cookies aren’t overly sweet. If you don’t want to bother rolling them out and using a cookie cutter, you can always form the dough into a log, chill it, and slice rounds. But, really, making maple-leaf shaped cookies is half the fun.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 egg yolk
3 cups all-purpose flour

In a stand mixer, beat the butter until it is light and airy. Add the sugar, beat until incorporated, then add the syrup and egg yolk. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour, mixing until the dough is just combined. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least an hour (overnight is better).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment. Divide the dough in half, keeping one half in the fridge. Roll the other half out to 1/8″ thick, and cut with a cookie cutter. Save the dough scraps, put them back in the fridge as you roll out and cut the second half of the dough. Continue rolling and cutting until the scraps are all used up. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned (the cookies may look undercooked in the middle, this is fine. They’ll firm up on the cooling rack). Depending on the size of your cookie cutter, this will make approximately 24 cookies.

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Raspberry Walnut Tart

Or, Tart Alma

I’ve got a raspberry patch in my yard. In late June, early July, and again in October, I get a gallon or two of raspberries. One of my favorite things to make is this tart. The toasted walnuts compliment the raspberries wonderfully. As an added bonus, the tart works as well with frozen raspberries as with fresh, so you can make this one in winter, as a Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert.

I call this “Tart Alma” since my friend, author Alma Alexander, flew from the west coast to Vermont solely so I could make her this tart.

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups (200g) flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (60g)
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup or 12 Tbsp) butter

Filling:

  • 3/4 cup (75g) chopped walnuts
  • 10 ounces (283g) frozen or fresh raspberries (do not defrost if frozen)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup (150g) white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 (35g) cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Make the crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a dough forms (it’ll be crumbly, but don’t bother adding any additional liquid).  Cut a round of parchment to fit in the bottom of a 10″ tart pan. Tip the crust into the pan and press it flat, evenly, over the pan. I find using a flat-bottomed glass works well, but fingers are fine. Be sure to press the crust into the edges of the pan. When the crust is flat, place it in the freezer and let it set for 30 minutes to an hour.

Take the crust out of the freezer, line it with foil, add pie weights (or dried beans, or rice) and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and bake until lightly brown, another 5-10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack.

Prep the Filling: While the pie is baking, toast the walnuts in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat, shaking frequently, until fragrant. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Remove from the heat.

Beat together the eggs, sugar, flour, powder, salt, and vanilla.

Assembling the tart: Scatter the walnuts over the crust. Scatter the raspberries on top of the walnuts. Pour the egg mixture over the raspberries and nuts. Bake the tart for 40 minutes, until the top is slightly browned. The center should still jiggle just a little. Remove to a cooling rack. Take a sharp knife and work it around the edge of the tart to loosen it from the pan. This will make it easier to remove from the pan when the tart is cool (I use a two-piece tart pan, so I can lift the tart out of the pan and slide it onto a serving platter, which I recommend).