chocolate espresso cookies

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Merrrrry December, my little ones! As I type, there is a Christmas tree…thistle? needle? branch?…I think it’s needle…stuck in my number 8 key. So, please pardon any funky symbols. It’s not secret code or anything.

espresso10espresso11My Christmas season thus far hasn’t been too whirlwindy. The past few weekends have entertained a couple of parades, my city’s tree lighting, and the Lights at the Zoo, which is basically that: our sweet zoo covers the place with lights and it’s sort of a South Carolina tradition to spend an evening there during Christmastime. It’s pretty magical, BUT…I am rather partial/biased. I haven’t found too many nights to sleep under the tree yet, mostly because our tree branches this year are practically touching the ground. I think our trembling-causing Christmas excitement forced our bodies to skip the tree-trimming itself and skip right to fun part of popping on those ornaments. But it’s cool. I’ve still found lots of time for music and cleaning (…weird? Prepping the house reminds me of Christmas) and baking.

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Last week, my kitchen was devoted to testing, baking, and sampling cookies for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. It’s basically like a cookie swap party (bake cookies, go to party with cookies, swap cookies with other attendees who baked cookies, come home with an assortment of cookies), except it’s worldwide. Each blogger baked a dozen cookies for three other bloggers and, in return, received three different types of cookies for themselves (I received cookies from Beth’s Blue Plate Special, The Cultural Dish, and Princesss Pea. Thanks, y’all!). The whole event is a great connection tool. Plus, 100% of our sign-up costs went directly to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, an organization that supports research of new and improved therapies for pediatric cancer. So, yeah. Basically, this swap is the bomb. I decided to do a chocolate cookie with a vibrant, yet deep, espresso glaze. Why? I like chocolate. Husband likes coffee. BAM. Winning combo.

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chocolate espresso cookies
yield: 3 dozen cookies

cookies
ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup unrefined cane sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar (made with natural cane sugar), packed
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup brewed espresso
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/8 cup dark cocoa powder
1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks

glaze
ingredients
1/2 cup unrefined powdered sugar
2 tbsp (or so) brewed espresso

create
Preheat oven to 375º. Using a mixer, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt together until well combined. Add eggs and beat well. Stir in 1/4 cup brewed espresso until well combined.
Stir the flour, baking soda, and cocoa powders together and gradually add it to the butter mixture. Beat until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drop tablespoonfuls of batter a couple of inches apart and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the middle is set. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack.
While the cookies are baking, make the glaze. In a bowl, whisk the powdered sugar and brewed espresso together until smooth. The glaze should thin enough to pipe over the cookies, but not watery. Use more or less brewed espresso to reach the desired consistency.
Transfer the glaze to a piping bag (or a sandwich bag with a very small amount of one of the tips cup off). When the cookies have cooled, quickly pipe the glaze over the cookies in a zig-zag motion.
Tip: Use a wire rack with foil or parchment underneath it. It will prevent mess, help the glaze dry correctly, and save any glaze dripping from the cookies.
Let the glaze dry/harden and store in an air-tight container.

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The espresso I used to bake and glaze these cookies comes from the super-fly (sorry, my 90s is showing), super-knowledgable owner of Loveland Coffee, a coffee company based here in Columbia which focuses on local roasts, ingredients, and the process. The respect of the ingredients and process is the whole idea behind and the whole reason I started Heed the Feed, so I totally appreciate Loveland Coffee’s stance. That being said, I am nowhere close to being a coffee authority (my husband had to make the cookies’ espresso, for Pete’s sake), so I will just let Loveland Coffee describe the espresso to you :

” Our espresso is a blissful union of base, body and aroma that produces an amazingly long lasting crema when extracted properly as espresso. Used in lattes and cappucinos, it offers a strong, smooth chocolate taste. Roasted light, in the Northern Itailian style, as all fine espressos are… it has no flaws to hide by roasting to a crisp.”

Ehh, ehh (with a little elbow nudge)? Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Heck yeah, it does. Well, here’s your chance to get your hands on some of those carefully-prepared beans. That’s right, Bob, it’s time for Heed the Feed’s very first giveaway! Come on down! (GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED)

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The Prize: (GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED)
1. One Pound Whole Bean Northern Italian Style Espresso
AND
2. One Pound Whole Bean Ethiopian Yirgacheffe

How to Enter: (GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED)
1. Like Loveland Coffee on Facebook and let me know you’ve Liked it in the comments below this post
and/or
2. Subscribe to Heed the Feed!
(You will receive one entry for each task. For example, if you like Loveland Coffee on Facebook and tell me in the comments below, you will receive one entry. If you subscribe to Heed the Feed, you will receive on entry. If you do both, you will receive two entries.)
That’s it!

A Few Other Things I Should Mention: (GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED)
1. Open to U.S. residents only. Frown. Sorry, international friends.
2. The giveaway will open at 12:00am EST 12/12/12 (cool) and close at 12:00am EST 12/19/12.
3. Winner will be chosen at random and contacted after 12:00am EST on 12/19/12.

Good luck and happy cookie baking!

Loveland Coffee will soon open at a brand new location: 7001 St. Andrews Rd. Columbia, SC 29212. Visit the website at www.lovelandcoffee.com

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strawberry chocolate cookies

I warned you all. Since strawberries are in season and since they are one of my favorite foods and since I have a huge bucket of them in my fridge, you guys get the grunt of my situation: strawberry recipes. I did a strawberry lemonade and strawberry buttercream recipe a few weeks back and it seems that the list may just keep right on growin’. Everybody okay with this?

…Bueller?…Bueller?…

…okay, then onto more strawberry recipes it is.

This cookie is an adaptation of a Martha recipe I found a while back with a really great chocolatey, moist, chewy, non-cakey consistency. Pause. Does anyone really like cakey cookies? I’ve not met one person who is like, “YES, this cookie is dry and puffy. Now get me some milk.” If I want cake, I’m gonna eat some cake, but when I want a cookie, I want a little crunch on the outside with a really soft inside. This chocolate cookie is one of those cookies.

Strawberries! Chocolate! Chewiness! With these powers combined, this cookie is awesome.

strawberry chocolate cookies
adapted from Martha’s Outrageous Chocolate Cookies
yield: 2 dozen cookies prep time: 20 minutes cook time: 15 minutes
ingredients
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup diced strawberries, stems removed

create
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring between each, until almost melted; do not overheat. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high-speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in diced strawberries.
Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, about 15 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Note: If the batter appears thin, it’s okay. It should look more like brownie batter rather than cookie dough.

State climate update: The 18 skeeter bites on my ankles can attest to the fact that summer has plopped itself down and is hastily soaking up any welcome it’s been given here in SC. Those almost blue blueberries out in my front yard can attest to that, too. It’s cool, though. I think I can accept SC’s quirks and personality traits and letting strawberry season and, basically, every other season come a wee early this year. That broiling heat, confidently I say, will be around for a while, so South Carolinians, brace yourselves. Let’s get through it by eating fresh and tasty food and by never being more than two feet away from a glass of glorious sweet, sweet tea.

chocolate amaretto sandwich cookies

I’ve never really understood Valentine’s Day. I’m not saying I’m against it. I’ve never been against it. It’s just never really interested me. It’s funny, when people ask what my husband and I are doing when the 14th rolls around, I’m like, “…uhh. Possibly going to the grocery store. Working. Going for a run? Oh? Were you expecting a different answer? (looks at the calendar) Ohh. It’s Valentine’s Day. Heh..” And I don’t really like to be that person that’s like, “Psh, Valentine’s? Do you think I’m going to participate in such things? Me? Please…talk to the hand.” and be all holier-than-thou. Some people like VDay, and I can appreciate it. So, for y’all who love to love on the official love day, these cookies are for you.

chocolate amaretto sandwich cookies
cookies
ingredients
1 1/8 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup all natural cane sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

filling
ingredients
4 1/2 squares bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp amaretto liqueur

create
Preheat the oven to 325º. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Sift the flour, unsweetened cocoa, and ground cinnamon into the bowl and mix until a smooth dough forms. It will be thick, almost fudge-like.
Place the dough between 2 sheets of parchment and roll out to 1/8″ thick. Stamp out desired size heart shapes and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Let cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
To make the filling, place the chocolate, cream, and amaretto (really, is there any other than Disaronno?) in a pan and heat gently on low until the chocolate has melted. Stir until smooth. Let cool, then let chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or until firm. Sandwich the cookies together in pairs with a spoonful of chocolate cream and serve.


Happy Valentine’s to those who are looking for a sweet treat to create and who are currently super excited about planning a fun day. And you know? You don’t have to settle for random stuff in the drugstore with icky ingredients your body doesn’t like. You really can make delicious things your body can more easily process. And…just for the record…I never said it was calorie-free.

P.S. A bunch of future friends (AKA blogging people who I know I will love) and I are going to Disney World next month to talk about awesome blogging things and hang out with Mickey! I’m jumpin’ outta my boots right now. I can’t wait to meet all of you! Thank you Food Blog Forum and Walt Disney World!

white chocolate cranberry cookies

When I was at Carolina, we spent a lot of our time in the GMP. GMP, short for Grand Market Place, pronounced gimp. I feel like I could dedicate a whole week to USC/Russell House inspired posts. Chicken Finger Wednesdays. Fried chicken and mac + cheese Fridays. Grits and biscuit early kick-off Saturday mornings. The GMP had horrible/amazing music (you know, the old Britney Spears you hate, but secretly love singing), hit or miss food, and a little bit of every type of person. The collegiate watering hole.

One thing I remember loving was their cookies. They had the norms, you know, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin. But then they had this special cookie, a white chocolate cranberry cookie. All year round. I loved it. We were like cookie monsters up in there. They had a slight crunch on the outside and a chewy, soft center. The perfect cookie, really. Now, I have no idea what was in those. I have no idea whether or not they actually made the batter. They were probably filled with shortening and diesel fuel. So, this is what we’re gonna do. We are going to make that cookie with yummy, natural ingredients. And every bite will be filled with Gamecock goodness.

white chocolate cranberry cookies
ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup natural cane sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar (made with natural cane sugar), packed
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

create
Preheat oven to 375º. Using a mixer, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt together until well combined. Add eggs and beat well. Stir the flour and baking soda together and gradually add it to the butter mixture. Beat until well combined. Stir in the white chocolate chips and cranberries. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drop tablespoonfuls of batter a couple of inches apart and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the middle is set and the edges are golden. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack, a platter, or your mouth. This recipe will make around three dozen cookies, depending on how large or small you make them.

These cookies are neat because every once in a while, you’ll get a pretty tart cranberry and your mind says, “Okay. Halt. Sour.”, but then your thought is interrupted with the buttery sweetness of the white chocolate. It’s a wonderful combination.

Russell House, this cookie post is dedicated to you. Thank you for hosting me for so many doggone tired, hungry hours and for dealing with my friends and me laughing at ridiculous things while we ate turkey wraps, vegetarian chili (cheaper, eh?), and, of course, cookies.