parmesan and black pepper shortbread

parmesan black pepper shortbread cookies

If by some chance you like to have your wine and eat some cookies too, this is a recipe for the file. And if by another chance you could care less about wine but require a sweet treat no matter what, I’m confident you’ll be equally pleased to indulge in one of these.

The savory elements of black pepper and Parmesan are at play here, which makes them a great partner for wine or other adult concoctions. But at the same time these crumbly, buttery cookies are subtly sweet, with a balance of crunch from cornmeal and some sea salt – just as delicious with tea or espresso.

parmesan and black pepper shortbread cookies

To me that equates to a perfect ratio. I love shortbread cookies for the very reason they’re not overly sugary, yet deliver a richness of flavor I find irresistible.

There’s just enough cornmeal for sandy texture, and Parmesan cheese fills the kitchen with a tempting aroma as they bake. The last touch is some lemon-infused sugar sprinkled over the top of the warm shortbread.

parmesan and black pepper shortbread cookies

parmesan, black pepper and cornmeal shortbread

Yield: 12 - 16 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup brown rice flour

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

½ cup stoneground cornmeal

1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Sift both flours and the salt over a medium bowl; use a whisk to stir in the cornmeal, cheese and pepper.
  3. Pulse the butter and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor until creamy; add the flour mixture and pulse just until a soft dough forms (about 30 seconds).
  4. Pat the dough in an even layer into a 9-inch square or round tart pan with a removable bottom.
  5. Bake 35 – 40 minutes, or until the top is very lightly golden and the dough feels set when pressed gently. Stir together the granulated sugar and lemon zest and sprinkle over the top of the shortbread as soon as it comes out of the oven.
  6. Cool the pan on a rack 10 minutes, then unmold the shortbread and cool 10 more minutes. While it’s still warm, cut the shortbread with a large, sharp knife into 16 squares or 12 wedges.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/04/parmesan-and-black-pepper-shortbread/

chocolate madeleines

chocolate-madeleines

So, you’re in the mood for chocolate (just in case you haven’t noticed: I am) but not sure whether you want to indulge in cake or cookies? Chocolate madeleines are a happy cross between the two; with a thin, crisp crust on the outside and a moist, melting chocolate crumb on the inside.

The method is pretty basic, but in order to achieve the characteristic domed, scalloped shape of these little French cakes you need to chill the batter for an hour in the baking pan – and yes, to make this recipe you will need a madeleine pan.

Madeleines are delicious at room temperature, but especially good slightly warm from the oven.

chocolate-madeleines-recipe

chocolate madeleines

Yield: 2 dozen madeleines

Ingredients

1 tablespoon melted butter

10 tablespoons butter

6 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate; chopped

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon salt

6 egg whites

Instructions

  1. Brush a madeleine baking pan with the melted butter.
  2. Put remaining butter and the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (be sure the water doesn't touch the bowl). Heat until chocolate and butter are almost melted; remove from heat and stir together until smooth.
  3. Sift sugar, flour, cocoa and salt into a bowl.
  4. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer or by hand until frothy. Stir in flour mixture until combined; add chocolate mixture and mix until blended.
  5. Portion batter into pan; chill in the refrigerator one hour. If your pan makes only 12 at a time, chill remaining batter in bowl and bake in batches.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Bake about 12 minutes, or until madeleines are springy to touch. Cool in pan 1 minute; unmold madeleines onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/02/chocolate-madeleines/

dark chocolate biscotti

Dark chocolate biscotti

These last few days of the year are ones I look forward to most; when we can unplug from our usual routine and just focus on relaxing with family. To me that means lots of cooking, feasting, wine-drinking and wood fires in the fireplace. But it can be hard not to get caught up in all that holiday scurrying – shopping, wrapping, decorating…I find myself wondering Am I done yet?

I managed to accomplish some holiday baking this year, and somehow it turned out there wasn’t enough chocolate in the assortment. These biscotti seemed like the missing link. It helps that biscotti are the perfect cookie for packing up in bags for last minute gifts because they’re not fragile or fussy.

The biscotti recipes I like best use butter. Some traditional biscotti are made without it, but I think they can be tooth-breaking hard. The ones here have a nice ratio of crunch, chew and deep chocolate flavor.

I chopped some extra chunks of chocolate to melt and drizzle over the biscotti, and I sprinkled a little flaky sea salt over some of them, too.

Dark chocolate biscotti

Dark chocolate biscotti

Yield: about 30 biscotti

Keep the biscotti in a covered container for up to a week.

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

½ cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

¾ cup dark chocolate baking chunks or chips

Instructions

  1. Arrange baking racks to the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
  4. Beat the butter in an electric mixer until fluffy; add the sugar and mix at high speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl if needed, then beat in the eggs. Lower the mixer speed to stir in the flour mixture and mix until just combined; stir in the chocolate chunks.
  5. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half on a lightly floured counter into a log about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide. Arrange the logs on the baking sheet about 3 inches apart.
  6. Bake 30 - 40 minutes, until the logs are firm to the touch. Cool on a rack 10 minutes.
  7. With a large, sharp knife, slice each log into ¾-inch wide slices on a slight diagonal and put them cut side down on the baking sheet.
  8. Lower oven to 325 degrees. Bake 5 minutes, then gently turn the biscotti unto the other cut side and bake for another 5 minutes.
  9. The biscotti are great plain or dip them into some chopped, melted chocolate if you like.

Notes

Based on a recipe from Gourmet magazine

http://familystylefood.com/2012/12/dark-chocolate-biscotti/