Chocolate “S” Cookies

These adorable little Italian cookies were a childhood favorite of mine, so I’m going to attempt to make some with a chocolatey twist, based on a recipe from this book:

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Cute, huh? Now, I’m not sure if this book is available in Canada, considering that this is a translated copy that I bought in Italy, so I’ll try to provide pictures along the way.

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1 1/4 cups (165 g) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (75 g) confectioners sugar

1/4 cup (25 g) cocoa powder

1/2 scant cup (100 g) unsalted butter

1 egg

Vanilla powder (pinch)

Salt (pinch)

So, what exactly is vanilla powder? When I first got this book, I had no idea, but it it’s used in almost every recipe. Because the book was originally written in Italian, I was a little worried that it wasn’t available in Canada. I asked my Nonna about it, and instead of just telling me, she went to the trouble of actually buying me some! Anyway, vanilla powder (front row, on the right), as you probably guessed, is a substitute for vanilla extract that is mixed in with the dry ingredients. It must only be used in small amounts, as the flavor is much stronger. I wish I knew the conversion rate, but unfortunately I haven’t experimented with it enough to know.

Step 1: Sift the flour, cocoa powder, confectioners sugar, salt, and vanilla powder together.

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Step 2: Add the softened butter and rub into the dry ingredients by hand until the mixture becomes darker, soft, and crumbly.

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Step 3: Add the egg and continue to mix until the crumbly mixture has become a smooth, slightly sticky dough.

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Step 4: Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Step 5: Take the cookie dough out of the bowl and roll it into a rope. Should be slightly wider than the width of a finger.

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Step 6: Cut the rope into equal pieces, about 6-7 cm long. You should get twelve of them.

Step 7: Place the dough pieces on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, and form each one into an S shape.

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Step 8: Bake at 350 F for 11-13 minutes, and let cool.

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Step 9: Melt some dark chocolate over a double boiler (I used one bar of Bakers Dark Chocolate), transfer to a piping bag, and drizzle the chocolate over the cooled cookies.

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And there you have it! These cookies are a bit denser than the store-bought ones, and they aren’t quite as sweet either, but they still seemed to go over well with my family, and I enjoyed them too.

Duchess Bake Shop: My first experience

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Before I moved to Edmonton, I had never heard of Duchess Bake shop. Now let me tell you, I was not disappointed on my first trip there.  Not only had I never been to a bakery like this, but I had never tried a macaron before, a love for them started on October 21st, 2016 when I tried several from Duchess ( Vanilla is my favorite).

Everything about Duchess intrigued me, from the vintage tables and chairs, fancy chandeliers and giant display case filled with cakes, cookies and pastries.  The smell of sugar and coffee filled the air, the chatter from customers and clanking of dishes from busy employees surrounded me, making the experience a vision for how I wanted my own bakery to be one day.  I am now a regular customer there, usually going in for the vanilla macarons!

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Taken from: duchessbakeshop.com

Not only is Duchess one of my favorites, but it seems to be a favorite for many others as well.  In 2015, Buzzfeed put Duchess in the number 4 spot of ” 23 BAKERIES AROUND THE WORLD YOU NEED TO EAT AT BEFORE YOU DIE.”  With the Duchess philosophy of using “no mixes, no preservatives and no shortcuts”, it’s easy to see why they made the list.

https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://globalnews.ca/news/1942890/edmonton-shop-makes-buzzfeed-list-of-best-bakeries-in-the-world/&ved=0ahUKEwid1I7k3OPSAhUK1GMKHaKgAtkQFgiaATAd&usg=AFQjCNGp6NntZDwIuXdW9FBjHBz3zY9MNw

Every month they have a few new flavors of macarons, using flavors that compliment the seasons or holiday.  Pumpkin pie macarons were definitely one of my favorites.  This month they are featuring blueberry lavender, sour cherry poppy seed, and chocolate banana.  Looks like I’ll be making a trip there this week!

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Cherry Sour Cream pie

I love that you can go into this shop and buy a large pie or cake for sharing or just buy a smaller version to enjoy by yourself. I mean really, I could go on and on why I love Duchess Bake Shop, but to put it in simple terms…MACARON!

Duchess Bake Shop

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Photo taken from yellowpages.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Baker is Born

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Baking is a passion, something you learn and love from a young age. I am very fortunate to have two small nephews ( Blake 4, Alister 2) who are very curious any time I am in the kitchen. In fact, I can’t go into the kitchen without hearing, ” Mimi, help! Mimi, help!” (translation: Auntie Amy let me help you!) and the sound of chairs being pushed across the floor up to the counter as my little baking buddies get ready to assist/make a mess.

When I ask my nephews what they want to be when they grow up, they proudly tell me,” A baker like Auntie!” I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel, I’m so excited to teach them the art of baking as they grow older. Being able to create something delicious in the kitchen is so valuable and a great skill to have.  I’ve decided to start them off young and teach them the basics of baking, and what better way to start than with a classic recipe. Chocolate chip cookies!

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I decided to use a simple chocolate chip cookie recipe with minimal ingredients, something I could easily explain to the kids and teach them step by step.  Also, baking with small children is much harder than it looks and they just want to dump everything in the mixer and turn it on full blast! I used the Hershey’s CHIPITS recipe with some minor changes to make it a little better.  https://www.hersheycanada.com/recipes/en-ca/recipes/cookies/96440/chipits-perfect-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cup All-purpose flour

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Salt

1 cup Butter (Softened)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups semi-sweet chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

  1. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Cream butter and both sugars. Add vanilla.
  3. Add eggs one at a time.
  4. Add flour, mix to clear.
  5. Add chocolate chips to mixer on low and combine for a few seconds.
  6. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Enjoy with a tall glass of cold milk!

 

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I think this recipe is great to use with little kids, mostly because I have it memorized from my childhood, but also because it is just simple ingredients that make a soft and chewy cookie that every kid enjoys. They turned out wonderfully, well what made it into the oven. I think the kids ate half the dough when I wasn’t looking…I wonder who they got that from!

So in conclusion, I love baking with my nephews and seeing their little faces light up when the mixer and aprons come out. Baking with babies is difficult, but there isn’t anything I would change about it. Lastly, baking ignites a passion for all things sweet. That is how a baker is born.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Hello! Have you ever craved cinnamon rolls and cookies at the same time? No? Well here is a recipe for you anyways! This recipe comes from one of my favorite baking blogs called sallysbakingaddiction. I have made many of her recipes before and thought i’d share this one with you all. Let’s get started!

You will need: A hand mixer or standmixer, a few mixing bowls, spoons, spatula, measuring cups/spoons, baking trays, parchment paper, plastic wrap

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Filling

  • 2 Tablespoons (15g) butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

 

I will be using the hand mixer method. If you are using a stand mixer, follow the same steps, and mix pretty much until it comes together each time. Remember to scrape the bowl.

 

First step: Cream the butter until it is smooth and not hard on medium/high speed.

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Second Step: Cream the sugar in on medium or high speed.

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Third Step: Mix in the egg and vanilla

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Fourth Step: Mix in all of the dry ingredients on 1st speed

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Fifth Step: Mix the dough by hand until it comes together. Once together, portion into two equal portions.

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Sixth Step: Mix Cinnamon and Sugar together.

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Seventh Step: Pin the dough pieces into a rectangle, she suggests 7×9 inches however i just pinned it until I thought it was good. After you have pinned it until it looks good, spread melted butter on the dough, one table spoon should do.

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Eighth Step: Spread cinnamon sugar mixture on it in an even layer. Roll the dough into a log using the parchment paper to help you along.

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Ninth Step: Chill for at least 2 hours. Since it was pretty cold outside I thought i’d chill it in a way Canadians would know pretty well. I chilled it for 1 hour. Note: Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C) before you do the next step, or you will end up waiting 5 minutes like I did. 😦

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Once it has chilled cut it into 1/4 inch thick slices. I didn’t have a ruler so I eye balled it as evenly as I could.

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Tenth Step: Place the cookies on a tray and bake at 350°F (177°C) for 12-13 minutes.

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And voila you have Cinnamon Roll Cookies!

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Formula and Instructions curtesy of: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2016/12/27/cinnamon-roll-cookies/

I highly recommend her stuff, as some of it is really easy to make and very very tasty. Thank you for reading! 🙂

 

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Christmas is probably my least favorite time of the year, but there is one thing that makes it better, and that thing is Ginger Molasses cookies! I used to have these every Christmas as a kid, and I would choose them any day over a chocolate chip cookie. However, as I got older I began to become impatient when it came to waiting for the once a year chance to have them, so I decided to learn how to make them myself. Now I can enjoy my favorite cookie year round! (That is one of the perks of being an adult. I can have a cookie whenever I please!)

You will need:

3/4 cup                 of softened butter (room temperature is best)
1 cup                     of granulated sugar
1                           whole egg
1/4 cup      
        of molasses/ treacle 
2  1/4 cup          
all purpose flour
2 teaspoons      
ground ginger
1 teaspoon        
baking soda
3/4 teaspoon    
cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon     
cloves
1/4 teaspoon  
  salt
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Step 1:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and remove any un-needed guests from your work space. (that is Sophie, ie. my un-needed guest)
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Step 2: 
In a mixing bowl, cream together your sugar an butter until pale in color, scraping the bowl down when necessary. You will know it is creamed properly when the butter starts sticking to the sides of the mixing bowl
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Step 3:
Once butter and sugar are creamed, add your whole egg and molasses. Mix until smooth, scraping down when necessary
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Step 4:
Combine your flour, spices, and salt in a bowl, and add them  gradually to your wet ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix until just combined, but with no flour visible.

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Step 5:
Roll your dough into balls the size of golf balls. Once rolled, roll them in a spare bowl with Granulated Sugar. Place them a silicone sheet, or a piece of parchment paper, and bake for 10-12 minutes. If over baked, they will become quite hard, but on the upside, they become really good for dunking in coffee!
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And you’re done! Enjoy this simple recipe!

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