Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pecan Fudge Cookies


In the weeks leading up to Passover I always search for new dessert recipes which are not only flourless but loaded with flavor.  This year I opted to try a flourless chocolate cookie recipe which was adapted from Francois Payard's Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookie.


These Pecan Fudge Cookies were a cinch to make with only 6 ingredients and a minimal number steps.  They were chewy, rich with chocolate flavor, and had a nice hint of saltiness not only from the actual salt, but also from the toasted pecans.  These cookies certainly passed my Passover test which I consider to be a recipe tasty enough to be made any other week of the year and not just during Passover!

Pecan Fudge Cookies
adapted from MAKE {AND} TAKE
(4 PointsPlus per serving)

Ingredients

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp fleur de sel (or another rich salt)
3 large room temperature egg whites
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups toasted pecan pieces

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt. 

With the mixer on low, add the egg whites one at a time.  Add in the vanilla.   Mix on medium speed for 10-12 minutes, until the mixture becomes slightly thick.  It will be slightly thicker than brownie batter.  Stir in the toasted pecans by hand.

Place spoonfuls of the batter onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving plenty of space around them (I fit about 9 on each sheet).  Put the baking sheet in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 320°F.  Bake for 16-18 minutes, until the outside of the cookies crack.  Cool on the cookie sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes.  Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.  I made 25 cookies with this recipe.  (1 serving = 1 cookie, 4 PointsPlus per serving)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


Wow, what a weekend!  I just returned from Boston where I attended the wedding of a very dear friend from from college.  It was a beautiful weekend filled with fun times and memories with friends. 


I had a bit of free time on Saturday to mosey around Boston with my favorite baking partner.  We ended up strolling around the streets of the North End, Boston's "Little Italy", and sampled many of the delicious sweet and savory treats the bakeries and grocers had to offer.


While I was taking in the magnificence of the rows upon rows of colorful cookies and cakes behind the counters of A. Bova & Sons (on the corner of Salem and Prince streets), my friend struck up a conversation with one of the bakers.  He told us to follow him into the back and proceeded to show us the industrial size baking equipment and even allowed us to sample a few items fresh out of the oven.


Now onto the Mini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins...these little treats will be a nice substitute to the ricotta and cream filled cannolis of Boston's North End which I left behind after this weekend.  These muffins are moist and sweet and packed full of banana flavor.  They are especially delicious slightly warm when the chocolate melts in your mouth after taking a bite.  The only trouble is trying to stop yourself after two or three!

Mini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
adapted from Splenda
(1 PointsPlus per serving)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¾ cup fat-free butter, softened (I used Promise)
⅓ cup Splenda Sugar Blend
⅓ cup packed Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1 large egg
1 (12 ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate mini morsels

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray 48 mini-muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

Combine the butter, Splenda Sugar Blend, Splenda Brown Sugar Blend and vanilla in a large bowl; beat at medium speed with a mixer until creamy.  Beat in the bananas and egg.  Gradually mix in the flour mixture; stir in morsels.  Spoon the batter evenly into prepared pan, filling cups ⅔ full.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in pans on wire rack.  Remove muffins from pans to wire rack to cool completely.  (1 serving = 1 muffin)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies


I hope you can bear with me on my search to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe!  So far I have baked my way through about 5 different recipes and plan to continue as long as variations exist.


After making the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie, a recipe which improved upon that of Toll house, my next test was to try out the Toll house recipe.  So I did, and I was disappointed.  The cookies came out very flat and crispy and it wasn't because I over-baked them.


So imagine my luck when I came across this latest recipe whose author had the same issue with the Toll house recipe as me.  I recently bought shelled pistachios and thought they would add a nice salty contrast to the chocolate chips, so I threw those into the batter.  The cookies came out puffy and chewy and just the way I wanted.

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies
adapted from Nancy Creative
(3 PointsPlus per serving)

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup light brown and 1/4 dark brown)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually add in flour mixture to the egg/sugar mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and pistachios.  

Drop the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, making sure to leave 2 inches in between each round.  If you want to make jumbo cookies then use about 1/4 cup of dough and roll into rounds.  Bake these about 4-6 at a time.  If you want to make regular sized cookies use about 1 tablespoon of dough and bake about 9-12 at a time.

Bake the jumbo cookies 13 to 14 minutes and the regular cookies 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Because I made 4 jumbo cookies my total batch made about 55 cookies!  (serving size = 1 cookies, 3 PointsPlus per serving)


The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie still tops my list, but this recipe deserves to be made again!