Toffee Cookies with Chocolate and Cayenne

I hate Valentine’s Day. Wait, not quite correct. I hate all card-company made up holidays that make you think you need to purchase a (cheesy) card for someone and basically waste money. These holidays include both Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days too. Ugh, so gross.

Valentine’s the the most egregious though made up holiday.  Overpriced roses that have no smell whatsoever. A meal out that is meh at best and again, overpriced. Pressure for the whole evening and lord help you if you have just started a new relationship. Just wait and ask her/him out in March or something. Go out for Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day – it worked for me.

That said, I took a recent cookie recipe and make sweet little heart cookies with chocolate and then did the perfect thing – added cayenne. Hey, why not, right?

D&D_260816 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate – Ghirardelli
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Fleur de sel / Maldon
cayenne

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix well. Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl, then add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing until well combined.

Shape the dough into a flat disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.*

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out hearts with a cookie cutter and place the cookies on the baking sheet.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Let cool completely on the baking sheet.

Bring water to a simmer in a double boiler, or set up a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan with water in the bottom. Melt the chocolate over the simmering water. When the cookies are cool, spread them gently with a thin layer of melted chocolate. Before the chocolate dries, sprinkle lightly with the pecans and a few grains of fleur de sel and a pinch or so of cayenne – let your conscious be your guide here. Let the chocolate set. The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Makes 20 – 24 cookies – all depends on your cookie cutter.

*It took more than 10 minutes – way more – just leave the dough in the fridge overnight.

 

Johnson Brothers – Old Britian Castles – pink.

Mardi Gras Sugar Cookies

Most people think Mardi Gras is just a New Orleans thing, but that could not be further from the truth. Mardi Gras is huge in Mobile, AL and in Pensacola as well. I would list all the krewes we have here, but the list is long enough to make you bored.

Season starts on 12th Night, the day the 3 Magi brought their gifts to the baby Jesus and goes until Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday – the day before Ash Wednesday, when we all start trying to behave a little better. Carnival gives us something to do when it is cold and miserable outside – drink copious amounts of alcohol and be loud.

We won’t even get into the Moon Pies. I just cannot explain that to even my own satisfaction.

Well, I know I make these cookies every, um, yes, every year, but they are fun and this sugar cookie recipe is just the absolute best. As much as I hate roll-out cookies, these always work. Simple and done. I keep buying different colors of sugar all year long – hey, you never know when you will need them.

dd_11801 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer,  cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla. Sift flour into butter mixture, 1 cup at a time until just combined. Dump out onto plastic wrap and shape into a disk. Cover with plastic and chill 3 to 4 hours (*or overnight or even a day or two).

Roll out dough until 1/4 inch and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Brush and sprinkle with colored sugars. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 – 10 minutes until edges are slightly golden. Remove cookies to a rack to cool completely.

You do have to be careful with such large cookie cutters because those sized cookies can break easier than smaller, more compact cookies.

Here are the cutters. Reasonably priced from King Arthur Flour. They do require hand-washing and drying immediately, but that is not a huge deal since there are only 5 cutters. They are sturdy and easy to use.

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Sour Cream Drop Biscuits

My mom made drop biscuits a lot for dinner. I would make them into my dessert. Split a biscuit open, add lots (yes, lots) of butter, and then some honey. You have to eat this with a fork because otherwise you end up with honey all over your fingers. Or at least that’s what happens to me.

D&D_2627Cook’s Country

12 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
16 ozs sour cream
7 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled, divided (5/2)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir in sour cream and 5 Tbs of butter until combined.

Using a greased 1/4 cup measure, drop generous dough scoops 2 inches apart. Brush with remaining butter and bake till golden brown, 20 – 25 minutes rotating the pan half way through. Let biscuits cool on sheet placed on wire rack for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Compared to my mom’s best friend’s sour cream biscuits – Mary Francis Christie – that woman could really cook. And I made those biscuits over and over again – so the challenge is on. Along with lots of other drops biscuits that I have yet to try.

I have to say, I was underwhelmed with these biscuits. The flavor was pretty good, but the biscuits were just kind of on the flat side. I didn’t fiddle with the recipe either – did it just as prescribed. I did take them to work for breakfast and spilt them and put them in a toaster oven, added butter, and honey and the taste was good – crunch from the toasting was nice, but they were not my idea of a biscuit.

More experimentation in the future. Damn, make me try more biscuits, my life is so difficult, right?

Smoked Almond Toffee Mini Milk Chocolate Kisses

Ever since I tried smoked almonds a few months ago I’ve been planning on making some kind of cookies with them. So here we are.

D&D_266016 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup smoked almonds, chopped
8 ozs toffee pieces
5 ozs mini milk chocolate kisses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In bowl of stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and blend well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add almonds, toffee, and kisses.

Scoop dough onto baking sheet with a couple inches in between. Sprinkle with a little Maldon salt if you’re in the mood. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, turning the pans half way through.

Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Source: Mod Meals on Mendenhall & cute firefighter guys never hurt. Recipe modified by, um, me.

2 Feb 2018

It’s Groundhog Day, Again …

The comma placement in this phrase is so. very. important. People really underestimate the importance of the comma.  (Eats Shoots and Leaves – anyone??)

D&D_GroundhogDay.gifI just cannot help myself, I love this movie. I saw it in the movie theater in 1993 when it was released and I was rather on the very pregnant side. I have never been a fan of going to the movie theatre. Too many people (ugh, people) and noise, and icky butter popcorn smell. Nope, not my thing.

I was a little shocked to find out that this is the 25th anniversary of the movie, but … duh, the Boy will be 25 this year too. Lord help me.

I do watch this movie every year, just like I watch the Grinch every Christmas. It is a tradition and while we really don’t have any six extra weeks of winter, um, every, it is still fun to get a sense of what the poor yankees have to deal with.

I will say – we are so very not equipped to deal with any real winter weather in any way. We had to close down streets, I-10, and especially bridges just a couple of weeks ago for ice – again. First time since 2014. So much for global warming. None of this makes sense to me.

That said, Phil has no bearing on our winter at all, but the movie is just so fun and I just can’t help myself. In an odd way, all the strangeness of the movie works and the funny little aside is that the Boy’s middle name is based on one of the actors. Not spelled the same way, but the inspiration was there because he was funny. Nope not Bill Murray. Or Andie McDowell either.

Mardi Gras

Well Carnival season is always a fun time here in Pensacola. Everyone associates Carnival with just New Orleans, but in this country it started in Mobile, Alabama – and moon pies are involved. Yep. Moon Pies. Pensacola has a vibrant krewe tradition and a host of parades and balls from 12th night (6th of January) on – there is not much else to do in January and February after all. It is cold and rainy most of the time so any excuse to drink like fish and dress up is appreciated. I would join a krewe, but I just do not like people. Nope.

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Yes, I have carnival cookie cutters. So?

Throws (beads, cups, and, whatnot) vary, but Moon Pies are in the mix. I am so not sure why, but hey, what is wrong with a chocolate Moon Pie once a year. Apparently this year there were calorie count moon pies – like tiny little things – who does that? This season is for indulgence, so let us just have a regular old-sized moon pie – like the kind I ate when I was a kid. I do not like the vanilla ones and really do not like the banana ones – ugh. Go chocolate (which is odd for me) or do not bother.

So today I wear beads to work – just like I wore beads this weekend when the major parades were going on. Monday was red beans and rice day and while that is a traditional Monday thing, but this is the important Monday. Today is Mardi Gras – the crazy day and then Ash Wednesday changes everything.

dd_1827_hood_mardigras

Hood – my Mardi Gras pup

I have local fresh eggs – amazing!

My friend Tony told me his friend Dusty raises chickens and sells eggs. Finally, a source for farm fresh eggs  – that is so great! I know there have been several places in Milton that have signs out for fresh eggs, but I just do not go into Milton that often. Tony speaks very highly of his friend and from the description the chickens are kept in, it is the kind of environment that I think is great for chickens. I mentioned it at work and someone called them yard eggs, and I guess when you get right down to it, that is really what they are. Though I have never heard that phrase before.

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The colors are so amazing. It is like Easter eggs without dying them.

This is just in time for my Meyer lemons to come in from California so I can make all kinds of lemon curd. And lemon curd tartlets – oh yes, this is going to be a good couple of baking weeks. Or just a good couple of weeks in general. Yep.

I think Meyer lemon curd has to be first because the two most important things are egg yolks and Meyer (or any lemon, but prefer Meyer) lemon juice. I think the only other thing that will be made more outstanding is hollandaise because, again, egg yolks. And fresh ones have to be so superior.