Chewy Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies.

I’m warning you.

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I may be getting ahead of myself, as these are only the second batch of cookies I’ve baked this season, but these may be the mother of all Christmas cookies.

A brownie-like texture with crispy edges. Rich chocolatey goodness begging for a glass of milk to take a dip into. Crunchy peppermint shards gracing the top.

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Ohhhh, yeah. Let’s just say… Santa’s going to need Mrs. Claus to tailor the waist of his pants after he visits our house this year. I may need to do some sewing of my own, at the rate Mr. Webb and I have been consuming these cookies…

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Chewy Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

7 oz semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, room temp
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
1 oz crushed peppermint candy, plus more for top

1) Melt 4 oz. of chocolate, set aside.
2) Beat butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
3) Add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each. Add both extracts.
4) Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture.
5) Stir in remaining 3 oz. of chocolate chips and 1 oz. of peppermint candy.
6) Drop large spoonfuls of dough (about 2 T) onto parchment-lined cookie sheet, allowing plenty of room to spread. Push a sprinkling of crushed peppermint into the top of each dough ball.
7) Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are firm and dry.

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Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

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Vitamin C Pancakes: aka bachelor pad flapjacks.

This past weekend, I finally made the four hour drive to where my only brother goes to college to spend some quality sibling bonding time. He showed me around his beautiful campus, pointed out the spots that he likes to hang out around town on the weekends, and took me to a local burger joint overrun with students. We bowled a couple of games at the student center (the worst of my life, may I add?), and spent almost two hours wandering up and down a very long, fantastically lit and Christmas-happy street.

All that to say, it was a very fun and activity-full weekend! Sustenance was badly needed.

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The last morning I was there, I offered to whip up some pancakes for us. (My brother, looking surprised, asked, “Did you bring a pancake mix?” Haha, love him!) I knew that he had ingredients in his house for at least making chocolate chip cookies, so I assumed that I was going to be able to make something happen for us. After surveying his pantry and finding flour and baking soda but no baking powder, and checking his fridge to find milk but no eggs, I realized I may have more of a challenge than I had expected.

A quick google search of “pancakes without eggs” turned up a plethora of recipes for pancakes with baking powder. A google search of “pancakes without baking soda” turned up a myriad of recipes containing eggs and/or buttermilk. I thought that perhaps I should hold up the white flag and declare cereal for breakfast.

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The food nerd in me (and my promise to my brother) caused me to press on. I found that the difference between baking soda and baking powder is this: baking soda needs something acidic to react with to create the gas that causes the bread/pancakes to rise. Baking powder is simply comprised of 1/3 baking soda and 1/3 acidic substance, and reacts and releases gas when wet. So, I had baking soda, and I needed something acidic to put in my pancakes to get them to rise:

And it was then that I saw the near-empty container of orange juice lurking in the back of my brother’s refrigerator.

My final google search led me to a recipe that replaced all of the liquid with orange juice, but still contained eggs. With zero eggs and running low on google-search steam, I simply omitted the eggs and doubled the baking soda, hoping that they would get enough rise.

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To my great surprise (and my brothers’ as well, who looked at my recipe for “orange juice pancakes” and raised his eyebrows), these turned out to be some of the best tasting and fluffiest pancakes I have ever made. The orange flavor was barely detectable if noticeable at all, and thus provided a great backdrop for toppings of your choosing.

Also on the plus side: these pancakes are completely vegan, full of Vitamin C from the OJ, and can be made from the contents of a bachelor pad refrigerator! That’s a win on all accounts, I think.

Vitamin C Pancakes (Bachelor Pad Flapjacks)

serves 2, well

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup + 2 T orange juice
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  1. Heat a skillet to medium heat, and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients, and add orange juice and oil. Whisk until combined.
  3. Drop onto skillet by 1/4 cup, flip over once top is covered in little bubbles.
  4. Allow to cook for about two minutes more, and remove from skillet.

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The original- my brother’s plate, drenched in syrup and smothered in whipped cream. Could he have perhaps been influenced by Buddy the Elf? We watched that movie the night before…

Royal Icing: the Debut.

Last Sunday, Mister Webb and I decided the time was right to hunt down our Christmas tree. Last year, we ended up getting it a week or so before Christmas, and not wanting to shorten our enjoyment of it, left it up for an embarrassingly long amount of time after the holiday was over. Let’s just say… I could have strung paper hearts all over the tree and it wouldn’t have looked all that wrong.

All that to say, we jumped right on our tree finding quest as soon as we’d finished up the thanksgiving leftovers this year. Maybe we will have our fill of the Christmas tree by new years?

My sweet husband loves buying gifts for people, and loves seeing them all wrapped up under the tree. A package with my name on it appeared under the tree not a week after we’d put it up. Chris insisted I open it early- as long as I promised to use it that day. A Wilton Christmas cookie mold pan- with twelve different shapes! Slightly self motivated, perhaps, as he knew that cookies would be the result of my opening the gift…

And such was the birth of my first attempted royal icing decorated sugar cookies.

I grouped them by the main color that I would ice them with…

Mixed colors, filled pastry cones, outlined, flooded, and wiped a few beads of sweat from my brow… (a few cookies may have been eaten in the process)

It was tedious and time consuming, and my end result was not nearly as pretty as I’d pictured they would be, but I had fun with the learning process and enjoyed handing them out to some kiddies at my church.

A wonderful way to kick off the Christmas cookie baking season, I’d say!

Double Chocolate Macarons

Ever feel like being fancy?

Most of the week, I look pretty grubby. I actually get to wear a chef’s coat at my job, but it’s not a flattering, fitted one like the celebrity chefs wear on the food network. It’s considered a good day if I’m not forced to quadruple-roll the sleeves of an XL coat because that was all that was left on the store’s rack due to laundry day. My hair is shoved up into a hat, I don jeans that are permanently stained by sheetpan grease, and my 5 am alarm clock leaves me little time to spend on a dazzling makeup job.

All that to say, I need just a little bit of fancy in my life when I’m not at work.

When I think of fancy, I think of France. If I had it my way, I would be magically transported to a quaint Parisian cafe on my day off. As the boundaries of physics clearly do not allow for this, I must do what I can to bring fancy to my Sonoma county life.

French macarons have been on my mental baking bucket list* since I first laid eyes on them. And at my first taste of one, I knew I had come across something magical. Their crisp and subtly sweet exterior contrasts beautifully with a soft and typically more flavorful interior. Perfect all on their own or dipped into a mug of steamy cafe au lait, the balance they strike is something that only the French could have come up with.

For my first attempt, I decided to go with a classic combo: chocolate and chocolate ganache. I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand, with the exception of one substitution I had to make: the recipe called for blanched, slivered almonds, and I only had sliced. Next time, I would definitely like to try the blanched almonds to see if that makes a difference in texture. My macarons ended up have little bits of crunch throughout due to the not-fine-enough ground almonds. I actually liked this, but I would like to try it the correct way next time.

Another tip the recipe suggests is to allow the piped macaron dough to sit for one hour before baking. This supposedly creates a crisper shell. I skipped this step due to time constraints, but next time I will know to allow for the extra time.

For all the time I spent intimidated by these sweet little cookies, they were not very difficult to make. To make them perfectly, however, is another story…

As for sharing the recipe? I am going to leave that to the expert, as I am just a student sharing with you my progress! Go visit Annie’s Eats to get the recipe.

But if you need a fancy treat… you’ve found it!

Cornish Pasty: getting back to my roots.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a ladies’ potluck event at my church. The challenge? Make and bring something that is from your heritage.

Gulp.

Although I would not have been escorted out of the room by the ear if I’d shown up with chocolate chip cookies or taco salad in hand, I needed to meet this challenge for my own personal satisfaction.

You see, I am as far away and as unattached to my “heritage” as one can be. Never having met a relative that was born out of the United States, the only knowledge I have of my background is the few passed-down and most likely muddled stories I have heard from my parents. The closest I had come to eating European food growing up was when we had crepes on New Years Eve: and we’re not even French!

Working with what little I knew of my background, I chose to seek out an English recipe. Bonus: I had also remembered that my great great grandfather came over from the region of Cornwall.

Google led me to one main food that the Cornish are known for: the pasty (pronounced pass-tee). It has a nice little story to go with it as well. Apparently, the wives of Cornish tin miners would make and pack a pasty for the miners’ lunch. The thick crust on the rounded edge served as a “handle” which could be thrown away after the miner ate his pasty. Mining for tin exposed the men to arsenic, and clean water sources were not readily available where they were working.

The traditional pasty filling is steak, potatoes, onion, and rutabaga. Short on time and not willing to venture to the grocery store, I subbed the steak for ground turkey meat and left the rutabaga out. I imagine my Cornish ancestors would be turning over in their graves…

As expected, the neat little packages of meat, veggies, and seasonings wrapped up in buttery pie dough were absolutely delicious. I opted to make them mini, about the size of my hand, for the sake of the potluck. I’d never had any reason to identify with my Cornish ancestors before, but I now feel a tiny bit closer to my roots after baking, eating, and sharing these pastys.

For the record: only three out of the ten or so ladies at the potluck actually showed up with a dish from their heritage. Yay for me!

Ingredients:

  • pie crust dough, store-bought or homemade
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 3/4 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup finely diced red potatoes (about 2 large or 3 small potatoes)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt, pepper, thyme, red pepper flakes, garlic powder to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method:

  • In a medium bowl, dissolve the bouillon in 1/2 cup boiling water. Add the ground turkey, onion, potato, and garlic. Season well with salt, red garlic flakes, and garlic powder.
  • Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a large biscuit cutter or freehand, cut out 4-inch circles. Combine scraps and repeat, using all the dough.
  • Put a small amount of the meat filling in the center of each of the circles. Close the circle of dough like a taco, and use a fork to crimp the edges together.
  • Line up the crimped pastys on a sheet pan with a sprayed piece of parchment paper. Cut a small hole or “x” with a knife in the center of the pastry to let steam escape. Use a pastry brush to brush the beaten egg on the top of the pastys.
  • Bake at 425 for about thirty minutes, or until the edges are nice and brown. If you want to be doubly safe, slice open one of the pastys to be sure the meat has cooked.

If you happen to be Cornish and you come across this recipe, I hope I’ve done it justice! If you are not Cornish and you come across this recipe: make it today. YUM.

Original recipe from here.

My first cakepops! Princess-themed…

For so long, I resisted.

When I worked at Starbucks, I handed pop after pop through the drive-thru window and into the eager hands of caffeinated customers.

While Christmas shopping, I stuck up my nose at the plethora of do-it-yourself kits lining the mercantile walls.

It’s just another fad, I said… Cake on a stick, I said.

What’s the big deal?

In early October of the year 2012, let it be known: Mrs. Webb’s era of cake-pop-hating and fad-resisting has officially drawn to a close.

They are just too CUTE!!

I may be biased. Like a proud parent, I am. But after the long process of baking, scraping, shaping, dipping, and decorating… wouldn’t you feel a tiny bit invested?

In all seriousness, I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty these little treasures turned out to be. And I now see what all the fuss is about!

Not only are they perfectly portioned for an after-dinner bite and convenient for carting around plate-free, but they are also super versatile. I’ve got loads of ideas for different variations of cake for the inside, and for fun holiday themes on the outside.

And as someone who is really big on texture, the contrast of the hard chocolate on the outside and the soft, dense cake on the inside took this dessert over the top!

Bliss, I tell you, bliss!

I chose to go for a classic combo for my trial run- my favorite devil’s food* recipe for the cake portion and a subtly sweet chocolate buttercream frosting for the binder. I covered it in white chocolate to cut the richness of the interior with something a little sweeter… Plus, Wilton’s just so happened to have purple white chocolate melts that I absolutely needed to have for the princess theme!

I am not going to type out the technical instructions for assembling the cake pops, as the web is already littered with instructional videos and recipes, and I am also betting you have already made these if you are wiser than I (and less stubborn, perhaps)! If I were you, though, I would go straight to the source if you are setting out to make these for the first time: a blogger named bakerella is credited to creating the cake pop, and on her web site is everything you need to know about dipping, decorating, and forevermore obsessing over cake pops. You have been warned.

Now, go find a friend, and dip! Or, invite me over! I’ll be your friend if cake pop making is involved!

*the devil’s food recipe is one of several recipes on the page that it is linked to… It is totally worth scrolling down and making!