Category: Sweets


Finally getting around to writing about the Christmas cookies I baked this year!  I know, I know, it’s March.  But cookies are good any time of year.

I made seven different kinds this year, and only one was a variety I had made before:

Not so "easy" when it comes time to take them out of the pan...

“Easy” Layer Bars from a 1970s utility company cookbook. I REALLY should have lined the pan with parchment.

They don't turn pink when you use organic cherries

Cherry Blossoms from Flour On My Face

These were one of my favorites!

Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies, adapted from Go Bold With Butter (no coconut or nuts in mine)

The recipe made about a billion of these!  My freezer is still full of them.

Orange Cardamom Crinkles, also from Go Bold with Butter. Next time I’d probably double the cardamom.

I need more cooling racks.

So many cookies!

mmm...Nutella!

The only kind I’d made before: Nutella Lava Cookies from Kirbie’s Cravings. These are pretty much the Best. Cookies. Ever.

Plus I made Almond Cloud Cookies (unfortunately I seem to be lacking a picture of those), and that’s not even counting the Tangerine-Ginger-Vanilla Sugar Cookies and Nutella Chip Cookies that I made with some friends of mine earlier in December.  There were so very many cookies this year!

But I couldn’t go without making up my own cookie recipe, so my friends and I brainstormed flavors that would go well together and eventually decided that it would be really awesome to find a way to combine the flavors of habanero, lime, and dark chocolate all together in one cookie.

But how to do it?  I thought the flavors might get lost if they were just directly added to a chocolate dough.  So I needed some sort of filling.  Cheese is my go-to answer for almost every cooking question, so I figured, why not mix the habanero and lime with some goat cheese?

it looks Christmasy!

The filling, just waiting to be mixed…

Upon further reflection, it made sense to add cream cheese to the mix, because goat cheese can be a bit crumbly in texture, so it turned into a cheesecake filling, with cream cheese, goat cheese, lime zest, lime juice, very finely minced habanero, and powdered sugar.  I don’t actually know how much powdered sugar I ended up adding.  I started off with every intention of measuring and added a quarter cup, but upon tasting, it really wasn’t sweet enough and didn’t seem like a dessert, so I added more, a little at a time, until it tasted right.  So when you make these, just be sure you add the powdered sugar slowly until you’re satisfied with the flavor.  You need just enough to take it over the line from savory to sweet, but be careful not to go too sweet, since you’re already surrounding it with chocolatey cookie goodness.

They're big cookies.

 

Cheesecake Cookies!

Dark Chocolate Habanero Lime Cheesecake Cookies
(makes approx. 34 cookies)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1.25 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2.25 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.25c bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 8oz (1 package) cream cheese
  • 4oz goat cheese
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 habaneros, seeded and finely minced
  • 1/4 cup + extra (to taste) powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the butter and sugar until they’re light and fluffy (this may take a couple minutes).  Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add the cocoa powder and mix it in gently.  Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder, and then slowly add them to the wet ingredients, about a third at a time, and mix until just combined.  With a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl, blend together the cream cheese, goat cheese, lime zest, minced habaneros, 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, and half of the lime juice.  Taste it, and add more powdered sugar and/or lime juice until you’re satisfied with the taste of the filling.  Be careful not to over-sweeten: the chocolate cookie dough is fairly sweet, so just add the powdered sugar a little at a time.

Scoop up about 2tbsp of cookie dough, roll it into a ball, and then flatten it to a disk in your hand with a slight indentation in the middle.  Scoop a bit of the filling into the middle, and then wrap the cookie dough around it, sealing in the filling.  Roll it back into a ball, and put it on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Space cookies about 2 inches apart, and bake for 14-17 minutes.  Cool on the sheet for a few minutes, and then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

PS. You may have extra filling left–it makes an excellent mini cheesecake!  Just take a ramekin, mix a little melted butter with some graham cracker crumbs (or cookie crumbs…whatever you have) in the bottom and then load in the filling and bake at 350 degrees til it’s set.

mmm...leftovers!

Leftover filling mini-cheesecake!

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As you may have gathered from the frequency with which they appear in my recipes, I buy a lot of beets.  I’m not really sure why I buy so many beets–as a child I didn’t even like them!  (Though I can’t say that we had them often.  And seriously?  Stay away from the canned ones.  *shudder*)  Maybe I buy a lot of beets because they frequently look good at the grocery store and since they’re root vegetables, they have a longer season of availability.  Maybe I like the bright colors.  Maybe it’s going to Russia that did it.  (I do love a good bowl of borsch, hot or cold!)  Whatever the reason, I buy beets a lot.  And usually I put them with things like dill and goat cheese on the one hand, or citrus fruits on the other (see: Beets Romano or Beet and Kumquat Salad).  But this time, I wanted to do something different.  I wanted to do something creative with the bright red beets I had just acquired.  So I decided on a whim to send a tweet to Justin Warner, the winner of this season’s Food Network Star, curious to see if he’d answer me, and curious to see what rebellious beet ideas he might have.

And what do you know, he did answer!  In fact, he answered twice.  His first idea was to make a sparkling watermelon-beet borsch.  I had never thought to combine watermelon and beets, and the flavors melded surprisingly well.  And when you add club soda or sparkling water to the watermelon-beet puree, it fizzes up like a volcano in an elementary school science experiment.  (I’d highly recommend serving it as shooters–more fun that way!)

His second suggestion was to combine beets and white chocolate.  This was an idea I had to sit on for several days–I wasn’t sure what sort of vehicle I could use to bring these two things together.  I didn’t want to go the pure dessert route, but neither could I conceive of using white chocolate in a savory application.  (Maybe I need to watch more Chopped.)  But then it struck me–pancakes!  Chocolate chips go great in pancakes!  Shredded vegetables like carrots or zucchini go great in pancakes!  So why shouldn’t I put white chocolate and beets into a pancake?

Idea firmly in mind, I started searching for pancake recipes to compare and once I had that down, it was time to start cooking!

As it turned out, my shiny red beets were candy cane beets:

All shiny and red!

Look at the stripes!

For this recipe though, I needed to grate the beets rather than cutting them into chunks.  I could have tossed them in the food processor, but instead I decided to grate them by hand to get a finer texture (and a good arm workout!).  Interestingly, when you grate candy cane beets, they start of bright pink but quickly oxidize to a greyish-purple.  My pancakes won’t be winning any beauty contests, but they still taste good (despite my husband’s opinion that they look like old hamburgers!)

After grating the beets, you need to press some of the liquid out of them.  This is a key step.  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.  If you do, your pancakes won’t stick together in nice little patty shapes.

The saran wrap is a vain attempt to keep them from oxidizing.

Once I had the beets grated, I mixed up the rest of the ingredients for the batter, folded in the grated beets, and then folded in the white chocolate chunks.

Look at all the chocolate!

I fried them up in a little butter on my electric griddle and they were done!  With the sweetness of the white chocolate, you don’t even need any syrup!

Pancakes!

White Chocolate Beet Pancakes
(serves 4-6)

  • 2c finely grated beets (2-3 large beets)
  • 1c all purpose flour
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 2tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 3tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4c buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4oz white chocolate (chips or chunks)
  • Butter for the griddle

Wash and peel your beets, and then grate them using either a box grater (to get really fine shreds) or a food processor (if you’re in a hurry).  Press out as much liquid as you can so your pancakes aren’t soggy.

Mix all of your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg) together in a bowl.  In a separate, larger bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients except the beets (oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla).  Once they’re combined, add in the beets, and stir so that they’re well coated.  Then add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix everything together until it’s just combined.  Finally, fold in the white chocolate chips!

Heat an electric griddle or frying pan to medium heat.  You want the butter to sizzle but not burn when it hits it.  Form palm-sized patties of pancake batter and fry them in the butter for 2-3 minutes on the first side, flip them, and let them go another 30 seconds to a minute until the other side is also golden brown.  You can keep the finished ones on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven to keep them warm until you’re ready to eat!