dark chocolate butterscotch cookies

Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies

Oh, dear. It seems like I’ve gone off on a bit of a chocolate tangent on these past few posts, eh? And I thought I was going cranberry crazy by having two cranberry recipes on a row. I’m about to get chocolate wasted with my third chocolate-based recipe in a row! Eh. ‘Tis the season, am I right? (All in moderation, of course. I’m typing this up as I’m eating a kale salad with vegetables, EVOO, garlic powder, and vinegar. Total guilt avoided. Ha!)

One of my coworkers, Jean-Marie, is my department’s Queen of Baking! No birthday is complete without some of her chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and her scones with currants are so incredibly authentic! With a little jam and clotted cream, I feel like I’m in a London tea house rather than a windowless 5th floor office on the Upper East Side. Don’t get me started on her Banoffee Pie! Her food has even inspired a hashtag between a few other coworkers and myself: #dammitjeanmarie ! Why? Because on those days when we say, “I’m having oatmeal for breakfast and going to Sweetgreen for lunch!”, J-M will casually drop a plate of scones by the microwave. DAMMIT, JEAN-MARIE!

ue The other day, she made these dreamy Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies. Their color alone indicated to me that they would be rich, but it was quite the opposite! The cookie had a cakier and more crumbly texture than I was expecting, and the cookie’s flavor was not dissimilar to that of an Oreo, likely due to the addition of black cocoa. It wasn’t too sweet, which worked well because the butterscotch can be such a dominant sweet flavor. The black cocoa counters this beautifully. I had to ask for the recipe, and I had to make it right away. She even gave me black cocoa to use! Honestly, without it, I doubt they’d be as delicious.

dark chocolate butterscotch cookies

Dammit, Jean-Marie! These are great!

dark chocolate butterscotch cookies

Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies
(Makes 12 – 15 cookies)

Ingredients:

– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 2 tablespoons dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
– 2 tablespoons black cocoa, sifted
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
– 1/4 cup granulated sugar
– 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
– 1 large egg, room temperature
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 cup butterscotch chips

Before We Get Started…

– The original recipe calls for light brown sugar, but I used dark. I could tell no discernible difference, so use whichever brown sugar you have available.

Directions:

1.) In a medium bowl, whisk flour, both cocoas, baking soda, and salt until combined.

2.) In a large bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes light. Reduce speed of beaters and slowly add egg and vanilla. Continue to beat until combined.

3.) Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix together. Add butterscotch chips and mix until chips have uniformly spread throughout the dough. Place dough in refrigerator for at least one hour, but up to overnight.

4.) Prior to baking, preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet(s) with parchment paper and set aside.

5.) Portion dough into 12 – 15 cookies, roughly the size of a large golf ball, and place onto baking sheet(s). Flatten very slightly, but make sure they maintain an overall round-ish shape. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes; cookies may look a bit undercooked, but they will firm up once they cool!

6.) Remove from oven and cool cookies on baking sheet(s) for 5 minutes before removing and placed on a wire rack to finish cooling.

– – – –

NOTE: Because I want some credit, please know that because my Kitchen Aid Mixer is currently packed away in the back of my closet and my hand mixer is non-functional, I creamed my butter and sugar with a fork AND combined the dough by hand. YES. My hand looks vile. Ha! Digging black dough out from under my fingernails was worth the creation of these amazing morsels.

dark chocolate butterscotch cookies

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

A shortbread cookie is a wonderful thing. I enjoy them. I’ve definitely made them before. When it came time to look for dessert recipes to make for nine people on Easter while concurrently baking a ham, mashing potatoes, roasting asparagus, and mixing mac and cheese, the simplicity of a shortbread cookie recipe won once again!

easter cookie overhead shot

These cookies were a huge hit, thank goodness.

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After five hours of cooking and baking that afternoon, I’m surprised I still have the desire to even look at food photos from that day. Ha!

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Resisting the urge to nibble on the batch was hard, but I managed. Though, I did have to scold one friend for stealing one before the dinner. Lovingly, but of course.

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A sloppy Jackson Pollack-esque drizzle of multi-colored options made it a sweeter affair. Who doesn’t love a pop of color along with a tart buttery cookie?

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Lemon Shortbread Cookies
(Makes 12 – 16 cookies)
(Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit’s recipe for Lemon Shortbread Cookies)

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
– 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
– 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
– 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– Generous pinch of kosher or sea salt

Before We Get Started…

– This recipe is a great example of a “no electric mixer needed!” recipe. I currently don’t have an electric hand mixer, and with all of the cacophony of an Easter Dinner happening in my tiny Manhattan kitchen, I was not about to drag out the Kitchen Aid to make just a dozen cookies. If your butter is soft enough at room temperature, you can cream the sugar and confectioners’ sugar by hand and still get a great shortbread. So, if you are mixer-less, do not fret! You’ll still end up with a great cookie. I guarantee it!

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350°F.

2.) In a large bowl, beat butter at a low to medium speed until fluffy. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar and combine well. Add in lemon peel, lemon juice, and vanilla and beat until combined.

3.) Mix (or preferably sift together) flour and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until combined.

For rolled and cut cookies:

– On top of parchment paper or on a floured board or sheet pan that can fit in your fridge, roll out dough until approximately 1/4″ thick. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. After removed from fridge, cut cookies to preferred shapes. Move onto a lightly greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to cooling rack.

For hand-rolled cookies:

– Place bowl on dough in fridge for 20 minutes. After removing from fridge, roll dough between hands to form approximately 1″ balls. Flatten with hands until dough is approximately 1/4″ thick. (Eyeball it). Place onto a lightly greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to cooling rack.

shortbread

Shortbread

The origins of Valentine’s Day are quite widespread and fairly muddled, though, anyone interested in history knows it wasn’t always centered around Dove chocolate hearts and bouquets given to women because of some kind of societal obligation.

“From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain. The Roman romantics ‘were drunk. They were naked,’ says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile. The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.” [npr.org]

Well, with that being said, let’s make some cookies!

shortbread

I love shortbread, being a person that loves savory over sweet. The buttery crumb of a good piece of shortbread will win me over compared to any other cookie out there.

shortbread

It’s a perfect base for any kind of chocolate or sugary coating.

shortbread

My inner child was getting a bit overzealous. Well, I am the daughter of an artist…

shortbread

Shortbread
(Makes 1 dozen cookies)

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus 1/2 tablespoon to butter baking pan
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 cup sugar

Before We Get Started…

– Growing up, I habitually pressed my shortbread into the shape of a circle, then cut it into triangles. Habitually, this is what I still do when making shortbread! However, dough can be pressed into whichever shape you prefer. Also note that the dough does not have to take up the entire area of the baking pan; mine is usually a 8″ circle of dough placed on a 13″ x 9″ baking pan.

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 13″ x 9″ baking pan and set aside.

2.) In a medium bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer, on medium speed, for approximately two to three minutes or until butter is fluffy and lightened in color. Add sugar and beat for an additional two minutes.

3.) Combine flour and salt; sift the two together, if possible. Add flour mixture to the butter and sugar, beating on low for one to two minutes or until mixture begins to stick together and resemble pebbles. Remove mixer and use hands to combine the dough into a firm ball.

4.) Press dough onto buttered baking pan, making sure the thickness is uniformly 1/4″.

5.) Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes or until edges start to turn a light brown. Remove from oven and place baking sheet on a cooling rack. Once the shortbread has cooled, cut into smaller pieces.

6.) If decorating with glaze, combine 1 cup confectioners’ sugar with approximately 2 tablespoons of water or milk. Add food coloring, if desired. Drizzle or dip cookies into glaze. Place cookies on cooling rack and allow to fully dry.

Pfeffernüsse

Pfeffernüsse

Pfeffernüsse is a type of cookie I discovered in a mad dash to beat the crowds out of Grand Central Terminal and make it safely onto the 6:02 to Wassaic one pre-Christmas evening, many Decembers ago. I was cruising past one of the many Zaro’s outlets peppered throughout the station, looking for some kind of pastry or cookie package to bring back to Connecticut with me. (As if lugging two bags of Christmas gifts and my luggage wasn’t enough…) A bag of Pfeffernüsse on the cookie shelf looked interesting, better than bringing back some black & white cookies or another loaf of sourdough bread. My gut feeling was correct. My parents loved them, as did I!

Pfeffernüsse

Pfeffernüsse, also known as Pepper Nuts, are a wonderful type of spice cookie. If you are a fan of gingerbread, you’ll love these. Upon first glance, they are rather unassuming. However, the addition of freshly-cracked black pepper, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg will put you into the holiday spirit with just one bite. Some people coat them in powdered sugar after they are baked. Some people don’t. I never plan to be that latter person.

Pfeffernüsse

Also, it’s a wonderful word to say.

Pfeffernüsse

Fey-Fer-NEEEWWWWWWWSE. 

(Sorry, I’m on a bit of a holiday cookie sugar high right now…everything is way too silly…)

Pfeffernüsse

Pfeffernüsse
(Makes 15 – 18 cookies)

Ingredients:

– 2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
– 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
– 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 stick butter, room temperature
– 1 egg
– 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
– 1/4 cup molasses
– 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 cup confectioners’ sugar (for dusting cookies)

Before We Get Started…

– Be sure to have a small paper bag or Ziploc bag to place confectioners’ sugar in. It’ll make dusting the cookies infinitely easier.

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets and set aside.

2.) In a large bowl, combine flour, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda. Set aside.

3.) Place butter, brown sugar, and molasses in a large bowl. Beat with an electric beater on medium speed until mixture is fluffy, about two to three minutes. Once combined, add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

4.) Slowly add in flour 1/2 cup at a time, beating with electric mixer at low speed. Repeat until all flour is combined and the dough is formed. If mixture is too thick to continue to beat, knead dough together with hands.

5.) Use a tablespoon to scoop out dough and roll into approximately 1″ balls. Place dough balls approximately one inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Depending on the amount of cookies made and size of the baking sheets, no more than one dozen cookies should be on each sheet.

6.) Bake cookies for 15 minutes, rotating sheets seven minutes in. Cookies may crack slightly and should be golden. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.

7.) Coating three to four cookies at a time, place cookies in bag with confectioners’ sugar. Shake until cookies are well coated. Knock off any excess sugar.

8.) Return cookies to wire rack and allow to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container.