Mocha Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Candied Ginger…. and a Blog Award

I made it! 

Day 3 of my Cookie Weekend and I’m happy to be actually posting three recipes on the trot.

I love oatmeal, and I love chocolate… chunks, and then I went shopping and saw a bag of candied ginger, and my final cookie for this weekend took shape.

I’m also a huge coffee drinker, and no I don’t do decaf. Thankfully my coffee intake has reduced drastically from the time when I was in my 20s and used to average between 6 to 8 cups on any given day, most of it instant. And then I quit that line of work and hit the meditation trail for a while and my coffee drinking went down to nothing, though I did occasionally have a nice mugful every now and then. I’m up to around 2 to 3 cups a day now, at times grinding my own coffee, at times sampling blends I pick up and at times good old Nescafé for that instant buzz. A combination of instant and freshly ground coffee.

So coffee it was going to be. A nice mocha-chocolata melange. Nothing brings chocolate to life more than coffee does, more so when it’s spiked with a bit of rum.

Good stuff eh?

So here it is –

The Mocha Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookie with Candied Ginger

1 1/4 cups instant oats

1/3 cup A.P. Flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 medium sized egg

1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)

1/2 cup packed demerara sugar (+ extra for sprinkling on cookies b4 baking)

3/4 cup chocolate chunks (I used a little more)

3 heaped tablespoons candied ginger (julienned)

Juice of 1/2 an orange

2 heaped teaspoons instant coffee

2 tablespoons dark rum

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Pinch of clove powder

Start by creaming the butter and sugar, then add the egg and mix well. Meanwhile mix the coffee with the rum, the orange juice and the spices and let it sit covered for a while. Sieve the flour with the baking soda, add the oats and the salt and fold it all in till well mixed. Add the oat and flour mix to the butter-sugar-egg mix.

Now mix in the coffee-rum-orange juice to the batter, and finally fold in the chocolate chunks (be careful to separate them so they don’t clump together) and the candied ginger.

Refrigerate the mix till you are ready to use. It’s rather hot and humid now so I kept popping the bowl back into the fridge after every batch went into the oven. I used a large ice-cream scoop so the cookies turned out quite large. Sprinkle the cookies with some extra sugar before baking and bake them in a pre-heated oven at 160 degrees C for 20 minutes, turning the tray at least once during the process, till the bottom of the cookies turns brown.

Let them cool completely on the trays before transferring them to your cooling racks.

Decadent!

And on to the Part 2 of this post…

And the Fabulous Blogger Award that was passed on to me by the incredibly talented Ramona from http://curryandcomfort.blogspot.in/ way back in February.

 

Somehow the bit on news either got into the spam dock or went awry in the midst of house-painting and those internet problems I’ve been yammerin’ on about for the last three months. Ramona’s blog is a real treasure trove and you’ve simply got to pay it a visit, if you haven’t already. 

And in the tradition of passing on Awards, I would like to nominate –

Jenn and Sethhttp://hskillet.blogspot.in/

Joshi Daniel … http://joshidaniel.com/

Vered Simonshttp://eatnowtalklater.wordpress.com/

Jen Duncanhttp://lovefoodcookfood.com/ 

and…

http://bellacorea.wordpress.com/

Do check out their blogs because they are all so incredible. An extremely gifted photographer, and five passionate cooks.

Once again a huge ‘Thank You’ to Ramona :-).

I hope you enjoyed my trio of Cookies and here’s to a great new week!

🙂

Cookies, Crackers and Conundrums – The Cookie Weekend (Day 2)

Is a Cracker a Cookie?

I would like to think so, though purists might argue vociferously against the notion, and many others may dither. I too, for the sake of clarity have often classified them as distinctly varied from the cookie, even though I subscribe to both the sweet and savoury versions of the latter.

Why, for that matter aren’t Animal Crackers actually cookies? I suppose I should rest my case here without much ado. It is the weekend after all, and though many of my friends agree that I can argue a point till the cows come home, I happen to live in an apartment building that discriminates against bovine animals on four legs moving in.

So it’s Day 2 of my Cookie Weekend and I decided to go Crackers… 😛

Olive and Sweetcorn Crackers with Red Chilli Flakes.

I used canned sweetcorn niblets and green pimento olives, giving them a rough chop.

Here’s a list of the ingredients –

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons A.P. Flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 small egg (whipped)

1/4 cup butter + 2 tablespoons EVOO (microwave for 10 seconds)

2 heaped tablespoons sweetcorn niblets (canned)

10 green olives with pimentos

1 teaspoon red chilli flakes

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 heaped teaspoon demerara sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon orange zest

2 heaped tablespoons rice flour

Melt the olive oil and butter and let it cool before adding in the sugar. Mix it well and add the whipped egg. Beat the mixture, before incorporating the orange zest, red chilli flakes, pepper, chopped olives and corn.

In a separate bowl, sieve together the flour (3/4 cup) and the baking powder. Add the salt and fold in the buttery corn and olive mix into the dough. You will need to add the extra 2 tablespoons of flour  (perhaps a little more) at this stage. The dough will be quite soft. Refrigerate it covered for an hour.

Remove the dough from the fridge and mix in the rice flour before rolling out the dough to a thickness of about 1 – 2mm. I used a pizza cutter to cut out squares 2″ x 2″. Placing them onto parchment lined trays. Using a fork, crimp the edges and prick holes into the centre of each cookie, before baking them in a 200°C preheated oven for 25 minutes.

You may need to turn the trays halfway during the baking process to ensure that the crackers get evenly baked and crisp. Allow the crackers to cool completely on the trays before transferring them to the cooling trays for them to crisp up further.

This is the first time I used this sweet and salty flavour combination of sweetcorn and pimento olives in crackers and I must say I was quite pleased with the result. The red chilli flakes give it just that extra bit of zing.

So… if crackers are cookies, are cookies crackers? ;-D

The Cookie Weekend… Fig and Pistachio Cookies

I decided to dedicate this weekend (Friday through to Sunday) to… Cookies! And hopefully I’ll make it through all three days. Speaking of cookies, I’m a bit of a finicky cookie eater. I don’t like them too sugary, and I often prefer savoury to sweet. So lets see how the weekend pans out.

I decided to start with one of my favourite combinations. Fig and Pistachio.

You can never really go wrong with Fig and Pistachio, especially when you combine them with paprika, cinnamon and a bit of powdered ginger. The perfect spice combination, offset with just the right amount of demerara sugar, the spices, all powdered, bring out the natural sweetness and all the flavour of the dried figs and lightly toasted pistachios.

Here are the ingredients –

3/4 cup A.P. Flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup butter (cold – cut into cubes)

1 tablespoon demerara sugar

1 – 2 tablespoons ice water

2 tablespoons toasted, chopped pistachios

2 tablespoons chopped, dried figs

1 small whipped egg

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1/4 teaspoon ginger powder

It’s quite a simple method to making these cookies –

Crumble the cold butter into the flour which has been sieved with baking powder till it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, chopped figs and pistachios and crumble them all together.  Finally add in the spices, the whipped egg and the ice water to form a dough. Cover the dough with cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour (I had a couple of things to attend to so I kept the dough in the fridge for almost 2 1/2 hours).

Take the dough ball out at least 10 minutes before you roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough to a 2 – 3mm thickness and use whatever cookie cutter shape you like. This is what I chose :-).

Place the cookies on a parchment lined tray an inch or so apart, prick them with a fork (this will prevent them from puffing up) and bake them in a preheated oven @ 190°C for 20 minutes.

The aroma of the figs and the pistachios, with all those spices filled my kitchen as the cookies baked. What a truly amazing start to the cookie weekend, with the green of the pistachios and the brown of the figs coming up nicely against the pale blondness of the cookies. 

Cool the cookies on the baking trays before transferring them to the cooling racks.

They tasted wonderful with my cup of coffee this evening and would be sensational with a cold glass of milk.

Have a great weekend 🙂

 

Supremely Cheesy Garlic Chive Crackers and the Buddha who lost his head

My Buddha lost his head the other day. 

He’s been with me for well over a decade my little stone Buddha. Surviving treks and trips across the country, being carted around in haversacks dumped on dirty railway platforms and in the cargo hold of planes, and through weeks of silent meditation… not to mention a Labrador named Shanti who hid him deep within the recesses of her ripped-apart bed one day when she wanted to vent at being left alone at home for too long. I honestly expected him to emerge on her walk the next morning thinking of how she would get him out of her system. We’re talking stone here… But silly me, because it was Shanti who had the last bark and a change of heart and led me to where she had sequestered him. It was all so funny, I cracked up, hugged her and I swear I could hear her give a little doggie-giggle in glee when I turned my head away. So yeah my Buddha’s been a constant companion over the last decade.

And then quite unexpectedly he loses his head.

Incidentally I’m all for venting. I believe it to be good for digestion, though I fully subscribe to the Buddhist notion of it being devoid of any trace of anger… crazy, huh? So now you think I’m nuts, or on something. Seriously people, I haven’t even tried weed, let alone other more potent stuff and now that I’m stepping into the mid 40s I doubt I’m going to start. Though I understand that menopause can get you to do really crazy things.

But getting back on track I suppose you’re wondering if it’s even possible to vent without anger. After all, isn’t the purpose of venting just that, to express anger towards…???  Someone. But it isn’t… and I’m not talking some cockamamie bs here. Anger is self-destructive. Corrosive, it eats away at our insides burning holes in our bodies, minds and souls if you believe in them, while the person whom you thought your anger was directed at walks away without a care in the world. Stick n stones…

But that doesn’t mean that you ignore a situation gone bad, address it by all means but with a measure of calm. It is truly okay when we’re overrun to look for avenues to express the feelings that arise within us but with the least possible damage to ourselves. While some may choose to pray or meditate and by observing their anger watch it dissipate, others may walk or run till their legs ache and sheer exhaustion distracts them from their previous state of being. I also believe that you won’t quite qualify for the loony bin if you choose to look up at the sky and just scream or better still make sure no one’s watching you do it unless it’s your best friend who knows what a nut-job you are anyway. Venting can be quite therapeutic when it’s directed at no one in particular.

Which of course brings me to comfort food and crackers. I absolutely love crackers and I’ve never baked them. Silly, huh??? And its not just any old cracker I’m talking about here. I’ve been craving cheesy crackers. It was this huge bunch of garlic chives that I saw at the supermarket and promptly picked up on which I squarely lay the blame. But having never baked crackers before I was a bit worried about proportions and then I came across this recipe for Cornmeal and Chive Crackers from Pitchfork diaries and adapted it, omitting the cornmeal component entirely and using two different kinds of cheese, a sharp aged yellow Cheddar and Gouda. The result was a flaky and delicately crisp, but oh so cheesy cracker with the flavour of the garlic chives coming through all the way. I added white and black sesame seeds for a bit of nuttiness and that extra crunch.

Here are the ingredients –

¾ cup all purpose flour (extra while kneading and for dusting as required)

3 tablespoons butter – melted (microwave for 15 seconds)

3 tablespoons each – Sharp Cheddar and Gouda Cheese

4 tablespoons garlic chives – chopped

Pinch of salt (you can omit this as I discovered later)

½ teaspoon black pepper (crushed) 

1 tablespoon each – lightly toasted (cooled) white and black sesame seeds

Start by microwaving the butter so it begins to melt, then add the cheese and stir to incorporate. Once the cheese is all mixed in, stir in the chives and mix well. Sift the flour onto the butter-cheese-chive mix, add the pepper (you can omit the salt) and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the dough. Knead till all the ingredients are well assimilated to a soft dough.

Divide the dough into three balls. Cut out two strips of parchment paper and after dusting one of them with flour, place one of the dough balls onto the parchment and press down to flatten. Sprinkle the dough with flour and cover with the second sheet of parchment. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough as thin as you can possibly roll it.

Make sure that you roll the dough out from the centre to the edges since you want even thickness throughout.

Lift the top parchment off carefully and cut into shapes using cookie cutters or a steel ruler and pizza cutter like I did and prick the rectangles with a fork or a skewer to prevent them from puffing up while baking. Repeat the process for the rest of the dough balls.

Lift the rectangles carefully off the parchment paper onto a parchment lined baking tray with a spatula and bake them in a 180° C preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes or till they turn a light golden brown.

Cool the crackers on the baking trays itself once you take them out of the oven, before transferring them onto a cooling rack. I had some with ricotta… Cheese all the way! And they’re great on their own, especially with a hot cup of tea. 

I even had some at dinner with curried black-eyed beans, and they were delicious.

And I had some for dessert the next day with a lychee ice-cream.

Well, to get back to the Buddha I must say that I was a bit disheartened when he went over the edge and lost his head, but I managed to glue it back on, and he looks none the worse for wear.

And yes a dear friend ordered me another from Amazon which is en route 🙂

Enjoy your Sunday and have a great new week!

 

 

Date and Pistachio Soft Crumb Cookies

Don’t you love chewy cakey cookies. I’m talking soft crumb, the sort that straddles the best of bake worlds. Part cake, part cookie. Yum!

I’ve been dreaming chewy cookies for a couple of days now and then I saw these packets of dates at the supermarket, and knew I had a recipe on the make.

Now speaking of dates, an acquaintance from Iran once gave me a box of fresh dates, with instruction to eat them quick.They were so fresh, she was afraid they wouldn’t last the Mumbai summer. Oh, I remember those dates, delicious and rich, I was tempted to eat the whole lot, and then I shared them around. I’d like to think the Gods of plenty have and will continue to smile down upon me for that good deed. If you ate those dates, you’d know what I was talking about.

But these dates were packaged, Middle Eastern, Omani dates… soft, black, pitted and then vacuum sealed to preserve their goodness. And perfect for that bag of pistachios I had sitting in my pantry.

And here they are, my tribute to things Eastern… To black dates and lovely salted, green pistachios in their shells. To clean and wholesome flavours. And to soft crumb cookies

Date and Pistachio Cookies

The best part about this recipe is that you can bake the amount you want, when you want. Then freeze the rest of the cookie dough, conveniently and compactly cling wrapped.

Don’t you love the person who invented cling wrap?

And no… it wasn’t invented by the Klingons.

To make the cookie dough you’ll need –

1/2 cup butter (+ 1 heaped tablespoonful)

1/2 cup powdered sugar (white)

2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar (you could use more if you like it sweeter)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup dates (chopped)

1/2 cup shelled and chopped salted pistachios

After kneading the dough, shape it into a log, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate the dough for 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

The cookie dough
Kling-ing-on

When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 220 degrees C. Remove the log of dough from the fridge, let it thaw for 5 minutes and slice the log into 1/4″ rounds. Place the rounds on a parchment lined baking tray 2″ apart, and bake them for 15 – 18 minutes at 190 degrees.

Cool the cookies on the baking tray for 10 – 15 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Pour yourself a cup of coffee, grab a cookie or two.. or three and bite into luxurious goodness.

And yeah! Share at your own risk.

Stashed away for the midnight munchies...

Orange Paprika Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I’ve got a confession to make.

I don’t like chocolate chips.

Fine… go ahead. Hate me. But I’ve got to be honest. There’s something about chocolate chips which just puts me off. Which doesn’t mean that I’m not a chocolate lover. I love chocolate… especially dark chocolate. There’s nothing that elevates the mood quite like dark chocolate does.

Why isn’t it a girl’s best friend?

After diamonds of course.

So here are my chocolate chunk cookies. Or should I say, my Orange Paprika Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I wanted them eggless, and was a bit worried that they wouldn’t hold up quite as well. But they surprised me.

Orange Paprika Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I used about a 3/4 cup of dark chocolate, chopped into chunks, and 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour.  The orange really does the job in these cookies… about a 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed juice, and a tablespoonful of julienned peel (you could zest it if you like but make sure that none of the pithy white parts go in) elevate these cookies to a realm of specialness. And the 1/2 teaspoon of paprika (it’s quite enough so don’t add more) takes it over the edge and soaring.

I used both white granulated sugar and packed dark brown sugar (1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons respectively), with a 1/2 cup of butter. Creaming it well, then adding in the vanilla extract and the orange juice, before incorporating the dry ingredients. Finally folding in the orange peel and chunks of chocolate.

Spoon the batter onto parchment lined trays, press it down a bit, sprinkle with brown sugar and bake in an oven preheated to 150 degrees C for about 35 minutes or till the edges turn brown.

A spoonful of gooey goodness... just waiting to be baked.

Remove the trays from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the trays for 15 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Deliciously chewy and chocolaty with a hint of orange and paprika.

These cookies turned out wonderfully chewy… the gooey chocolate coming through first… then the orange, with the paprika finally kicking in to round up a delicious mouthful. 

Didn’t I say the 1/2 teaspoon would be quite enough?

Orange, Rosemary and Bacon Savoury Cookies

This savoury cookie was made for a friend who isn’t a fan of the sweeter versions, and who loves bacon and oranges… in that order. And she loved it.

I used Kinu Oranges that I chanced upon in the market, because they are juicier and sweeter than the regular oranges and they’re also great for zesting. And I suppose because they just called out to me in all their vibrancy as I passed by. But you can use regular oranges as well, just ensure that the skin is firm and not too dimpled. In fact I hope I chance upon Blood Oranges sometime soon, I would love to use them in this recipe.

You don’t need to, but I would recommend adding a teaspoonful of sugar to bring out the sweetness of the oranges and to balance out the acidity from the juice and zest, as well as to spar with the bacon drippings (2 or at the most 3 tablespoonfuls to 1 1/2 cups of flour are more than enough) and the crumbled bacon bits (not more than 3 rashers of streaky bacon – cooked and crumbled). A couple of tablespoonfuls of buttermilk and a sprig or two of finely chopped fresh rosemary (1 1/2 tablespoons should do the job nicely) balances everything out perfectly. 

Orange, Rosemary and Bacon Savoury Cookies