Chocolate Espresso Snowballs

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I used to be an avid baker. I would bake something sweet at least once a week because I refuse to buy grocery store cookies and cakes because they all taste horrible. Once I started working at a bakery in March, I stopped baking. Almost everything we make at work is better than anything I could ever do, so it became a lot easier for me to just pick up some cupcakes for a party rather than bake my own. There are also those days when I can’t stand to even look at another cookie once I walk out of those doors. Now that the holidays are upon us, I feel like my love of baking has come back in full force. The bakery I work at creates really beautiful baked goods, but it makes me miss the homemade taste and look of my own kitchen. I spend all day tossing cupcakes that are slightly smooshed or cookies that are a little brown. But when I come home and bake, I embrace those imperfections rather than criticizing them. It’s those imperfections that let my family know I made these goodies with my own two hands rather than just taking the easy way out. Even though I love small businesses and family-owned bakeries, I strongly encourage everyone to bake something yourself this Christmas. Your family will love it so much more than anything from a store, I promise!

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But anywho, enough about me. These cookies are the bomb. They’re a riff on traditional Italian Wedding Cookies. I took a boring and predictable cookie and punched it up with strong coffee and chocolate flavors. The chocolate isn’t overly sweet and the espresso isn’t too bitter. You’re left with a well balanced and crunchy cookie that’s perfect with coffee and milk. Since they are a harder cookie, they’ll travel well no matter where you go this holiday season. They also freeze beautifully. I made one dozen to enjoy now and set aside 2 dozen to  freeze for Christmas. To freeze, just place the cooled cookies (do not powder them!) into a large ziploc and remove all of the air. Then store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat, take the bag out of the freezer and pour some confectioners sugar inside. Zip it back up and toss the cookies in the sugar as they’re defrosting. It couldn’t be any easier!


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Chocolate Espresso Snowballs

Adapted from Food & Wine

Makes about 3 Dozen

  • 2 sticks softened unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlua
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • confectioners sugar for coating

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.Combine the butter, sugar, Kahlua, cocoa powder, and espresso powder in a large bowl. Mix the ingredients until light and fluffy using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer. Add the flour in 1/4 cup increments until the flour is thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans. Cover and refrigerate the dough for half an hour.

2. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets using the butter wrappers from earlier. Gently roll the dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place them about 2 inches apart from each other on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are dry and slightly firm to the touch and the bottoms have begun to brown. Allow the cookies to cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Once the cookies are cool, coat with powdered sugar. Enjoy with family and friends over a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.

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Piña Colada Macaroons

My life has been a little crazy lately. I recently started a new job with bizarro hours, I was extremely sick, then I got second degree burns on my hands, and I had a 2 page spread in an online magazine. I also missed my boyfriend lots and lots. During this period of constant change, I often forgot about all of the little things that make life wonderful. Like taking walks to the local ice cream shop. Or binge-watching How I Met Your Mother from the beginning. And smiles from redheaded babies.

Coconut macaroons are one of those little things. I can’t think of another cookie that comes together so quickly with such incredible results. Biting into a coconut macaroon is like an instant vacation. The toasted coconut combined with the chewy interior is like heaven on earth. Since I’m kinda obsessed with turning alcoholic beverages into baked goods, I decided to take the traditional macaroon one step further and transform them into everyone’s favorite tropical beverage, The Piña Colada.

I kept the whipped egg whites, sugar, and of course the coconut, but I swapped out the boring vanilla with rum and added crushed pineapple. Unlike some macaroon recipes, mine has no flour. I’ve made macaroons with flour and I really don’t think it’s necessary. If you whip your egg whites enough, you don’t need anything to hold them together. I also don’t recommend adding cream of tartar. Every time I’ve used it, I ended up with meringues instead of macaroons. In order to make this recipe a success, you’ll want to whip the egg whites until semi-stiff peaks form. And by semi-stiff, I mean the tips of the egg whites will curl instead of stand up straight. It’s also very important that you thoroughly drain the crushed pineapple. Excess moisture will make your cookies soggy instead of crispy.

But enough with pity parties and technicalities, you have a tastebud vacation to get to!

ingredients 1

 

Piña Colada Macaroons

Makes 18-20 Cookies

4 egg whites

1/2 cup granulated sugar

pinch of salt

2 t imitation rum extract

1, 14 oz package of sweetened, shredded coconut

3/4 cup of canned, crushed pineapple, squeezed dry.

Pam nonstick spray

 

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 2 cookie sheets with Pam nonstick spray and then wipe with a clean paper towel. This ensures even distribution.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites, sugar, salt, and rum extract until semi-stiff peaks form. The egg whites should curl when you lift up the whisk. Fold in the coconut and drained pineapple.

3. Using a medium cookie scoop, drop rounded mounds onto prepared cookie sheet. You want to ensure that the mounds stay neat. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheets once throughout baking.

4. Remove cookie sheets from the oven and let cool for about 2 minutes. Then transfer them to a cooling rack. This will greatly reduce any sogginess that may be caused by the pineapple. Place cooled cookies in a ziploc bag and store in the refrigerator. Cookies will keep for 5 days.

 

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Neat Coconut Mounds

 

whipped

What you DON’T  want your egg whites to look like!!!

yum

Just pretend you’re at the beach.