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Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

Molasses Oatmeal Cookies with Golden Raisins and Dried Cranberries

 Photo by David Bishop

http://www.dbishop.net/

While perusing the amazing dried fruit display at the new Fairway Market on East 86th street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Manhattan NYC, I spotted these gem-like golden raisins.  http://www.fairwaymarket.com/  (There are many locations in the city and in New Jersey.) They inspired me to create a cookie recipe that would highlight their beauty, texture and flavor. Oatmeal Raisin cookies are a healthy classic but their typical color would blend too much with the golden fruit.  I was looking for contrast and drama. I remembered that my photographer friend, David, had been telling me lately how much he loves including molasses in his homemade ice cream and other cooking endeavors because of its rich flavor. I realized that adding it to a cookie recipe would make the color and moistness a perfect backdrop for the juicy yellow raisins as well as adding caramel notes of flavor.

After mixing up a batch of a new cookie recipe I typically cook off two cookies to determine cooking time and temperature, and to evaluate the appearance, texture and flavor. After the first try with this recipe, I decided that I wanted them to spread out more to become thinner and flatter. I added more fat and liquid (egg) to the recipe. I also wanted to brighten the appearance of the cookies with a more jazzy look. I added dried cranberries both for color and flavor, not to mention their major health benefits.  http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=145   http://www.cranberryinstitute.org/healthresearch.htm   The tartness of the cranberries are perfect for balancing the richness of the cookie base and the sweetness of the raisins. The finishing touch was sprinkling a pinch of bright white sanding sugar onto each cookie before baking, adding visual dazzle and textural crunch.

I have been using coconut products lately in baking and cooking for their many delicious and healthy properties. Instead of repeating myself here, I invite you to see some of my other posts for more details on the subject, including where to find the ingredients.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marilinda-hodgdon/sicilian-pistachio-chocol_b_1128673.html

https://foodfloozie.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/pan-grilled-shrimp-with-lime-zest/

Recipe for Molasses Oatmeal Cookies with Golden Raisins and Dried Cranberries: Preheat oven to 375’F Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup Golden raisins
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup coconut oil, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup salted premium butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, or 1/2 cup more coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark or black strap molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger, or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Bright white sanding sugar as garnish (found in the baking section of your grocery store)

Directions:

  1. Place the raisins and dried cranberries in a small bowl or glass liquid measuring cup, and just cover them with boiling or very hot water to soften.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, cream together the sugars (reserving the sanding sugar for garnishing) and fats until homogenous.
  3. Mix in the eggs until smooth.
  4. In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together the flours and other dry ingredients, including the rolled oats, but not the sanding sugar.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until homogeneous, but not the moistened dried fruits.
  6. Drain the softened dried fruits, reserving the liquid to flavor your favorite beverage.
  7. Fold the drained fruits into the the cookie dough, reserving about 3/4 cup for topping the cookies.
  8. Form the cookies into tablespoon sized balls and slightly flatten them onto the parchment lined baking sheets with your fingers. Be sure to leave enough space between the cookie dough to allow for spreading, at least an inch or so.
  9. Garnish them artfully with the reserved fruit, slightly pressing the fruit into the dough so that it sticks well during baking, then sprinkle each cookie with a bit of sanding sugar.
  10. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until the edges are browned.
  11. Let the cookies cool for at least ten minutes before removing them to a cooling rack with a metal spatula.
  12. After they are cooled completely, enjoy immediately or store them in a covered container.

If you would like to make the recipe gluten and dairy free, replace the butter and  all-purpose flour with coconut oil and coconut flour. The resulting cookies will be a bit more crumbly but equally delicious.

Also visit my Food News Column on the Huffington Post at

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marilinda-hodgdon/  and my professional website at marilinda.com

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Puff Pastry Cherry Pie

Photo by David Bishop

A box of frozen puff pastry sheets from the store is one of my favorite go tos for creating easy and beautiful, delicious confections. Add some seasonal fresh fruit to the rich and buttery pastry, and voila, a treat everyone will love. Cherries macerated in cognac and sugar elevate this dessert to elegant status, while topping it with semi sweet whipped cream or vanilla ice cream makes it irresistible.

The amount of cherries you need depends on the size of your dish. Test the amount you need in the pan you choose to use. Pit about two cups of cherries. This is made enormously easier with a sweet little gadget I found at both Bed, Bath and Beyond and at Sur La Table, made by Progressive. It pits 4 cherries at a time cleanly and neatly with the push of the lid and without staining your fingers and kitchen surfaces  Mix the cherries into a medium size bowl with 1/4 cup of cognac, a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of all purpose flour. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes.

While the cherries are soaking up the good stuff take the time to prepare the pastry. Following package directions, take out only as much pastry you will use, one sheet in my case. Seal the rest and store in the freezer until you need it next. Lightly flour your working surface and the pastry sheet and cover it with a dish towel while it thaws, about 1/2 hour.

Choose a baking vessel that is appropriate in size and style for the occasion. I used a pre-seasoned cast iron Au Gratin baking dish From Sur La Table to make a pie for two. Trace the outline of your dish on a piece of paper and add two inches diameter for the crust. Cut out the paper form and lay it onto the pastry. If your form is bigger than the sheet of pastry, you may need to roll the pastry out a bit with a rolling pin, making sure you sprinkle flour as needed to prevent the pastry from sticking to your rolling pin, surface or hands. Cut the pastry oval out with the tip of a very sharp knife, tracing the paper, and lay it evenly over the baking dish. Gently form it to the bottom and sides.

Fill the pastry with the cherry mixture, including the liquid, piling it high. Form the edges around it. Beat an egg with a teaspoon of milk and brush the pastry top. Sprinkle both the pastry and the cherries with about a tablespoon of granulated sugar. Bake it in a preheated at 425’F oven for about 10 minutes until it is puffed and browned. To prevent over browning while finishing the internal cooking, turn the heat down to 325’F and bake for another 10 minutes.

Garnish with lemon zest when cooled.

Styling Tips

  • Before baking, use a thermometer to validate the oven’s temperature. If the thermometer is new, check it against two other thermometers. Most ovens aren’t accurate to the dial settings.
  • A pizza stone helps keep the oven temperature from fluctuating wildly, which most ovens do. Adjust a shelf to the middle of the oven and place the stone on it while the oven is cold, to prevent breakage.
  • Make sure the oven achieves 425’F before putting the pie in the center on the stone. The stone will also help the bottom crust cook thoroughly and prevent sogginess.

Check out my new column with the Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marilinda-hodgdon/ and my professional site at http://www.marilinda.com

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