I’m not typically a shortbread fan, BUT these were pretty good! Perhaps it was the Mexican style caramel filling called Dulce de Leche that won me over 🙂
Reddit bake challenge this week was Mexico – I would assume to commemorate Cinco de Mayo. I’ve done Mexican chocolate type recipes and flan, but dulce de leche was new to me, so went with it.
Dulce de leche literally means “candy of milk.” SIGN ME UP! It is the color and consistency of creamy caramel, but definitely not quite the same flavor. You can buy it in cans (if you can find it!), but I just made it myself using this recipe. Super easy, as it’s literally heating sweetened condensed milk until it’s lightly brown.
After whipping up a shortbread dough, I used a melon baller to place a little indent inside and piped in some dulce de leche. A salty/sweet combo always rocks, so I went ahead and sprinkled on some flaked sea salt.
Shortbread still isn’t my favorite, but the sweet gooey moisture from the caramel really balances out the dry crumbly texture. These are worth making!
Recipe for homemade dulce de leche is here.
Recipe for the cookies are here.
I LOVE MARZIPAN!
There…I said it. And I think it’s woefully under-represented here in the US. Sure, you can find the very hard colorful “fruits” around the holidays pretty easily, but the real deal is so much better 🙂
As someone who has used store-bought marzipan and homemade, definitely go with homemade when you can. It tastes fresher, and is actually far cheaper to make. A very easy recipe is below. Really – I’m talking about 5 minutes and lasts for a long time in the fridge.
Why the obsession with marzipan this week? Week 6 baking challenge was tiny treats. These chocolate-dipped horns aren’t that tiny, but I figured you can eat them in a few bites, so they count!
This cookie is chewy and full of almond flavor – fair warning if you want something light and airy instead 😉
The marzipan recipe below also works beautifully for rolling out in a sheet for covering a cake (I made a Battenberg last year with it!) or just breaking off chunks and molding into cute edible shapes, or dipping in chocolate and eating plain.
Both the marzipan and the chocolate-dipped horns came from the same place – the Daring Gourmet. I LOVE this blog! She has some unusual, not run-of-the-mill recipes, including many ethnic ones.
Chocolate-Dipped Marzipan Horns Recipe
I find meringue to be fickle sometimes. I went through 2 batches of another meringue recipe on a drizzly day and it refused to make stiff peaks both times! Almost weekly I whip up egg whites for macarons, so I’d like to THINK I have my technique down at this point. I’ll blame it on the rain that day 😉
This recipe was used to make tiny mushrooms for a Buche de Noel for Christmas…they were the best meringues EVER. They literally melted in my mouth, which was quite a change from other dry, hollow hockey pucks I’ve made in the past. I’ve narrowed it down to temperature being important here; too high a temp seems to create giant gaps in meringue cookies. So go low and slow!
Like macarons, this recipe only uses whites and you’ll need to either throw out your yolks or save them to make this deliciousness.
Shockingly enough, these are even better dipped in chocolate and the bottoms bathed in nonpareils. The texture rocks on these – crunchy sweet bottoms with light and airy meringue on top. I really enjoy the contrast! I also just drizzled some bittersweet chocolate on a few of them, because why not?
One more tip – make sure your cooled meringues are stored in an airtight container. They like to absorb moisture from the air and become sticky, although still tasty 😉
Chocolate-Dipped Meringue Cookies
Meringue cookies are both easy to make and impressive to serve to guests! A batch of these would make a welcome gift.
Preheat oven to 200 F and cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Place your egg whites and cream of tartar in a very clean bowl; any fat/oil/grease in the bowl will prevent your eggs from peaking.
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, start to mix on low and inch your way up to medium speed until soft peaks form.
Increase your speed to high and slowly add your granulated sugar. I just hold the small bowl over the mixer while it's running and just sprinkle it in small amounts until gone. Mix until you get stiff peaks.
Now you can either use a spoon to place small teaspoon-sized mounds on your parchment, or you can use a piping bag with tip to make a small "kiss" shape on your parchment. I made these about 3/4 inch in diameter.
Bake for 1 hour at 200 F and turn your pan around; my oven has "hot spots" and this keeps one side from browning before the other. Bake for another 30 minutes and turn the oven off, leaving them inside another 15 minutes. Depending on the size of your meringues, you may need more or less time in the oven. When they feel light, crisp and airy and come off the paper easily, they are done. They will start to shrivel a bit if overcooked, although taste will still be yum 🙂
Dip the bottoms of your cooled meringues into the melted chocolate and then into nonpareils, or alternatively you can drizzle the chocolate over them. They will rock either way!
If you have leftovers (why would you??), then keep them in an airtight container to prevent "chewiness" from absorbing the humidity.
Adapted from Chowhound's Meringue Mushroom recipe.
Leb-a-who?? Lebkuchen, i.e. German gingerbread cookies. The baking theme this week (see https://www.reddit.com/r/52weeksofbaking/) was Germany. I’ve always been interested in all things Deutschland related. With 2 years of German language in high school and a love affair with marzipan, I am almost German, right??
I also happen to have a brand new sister-in-law from the UK that brought my attention to Lebkuchen. According to all-knowing Wikipedia:
Lebkuchen or Pfefferkuchen, is a traditional German baked Christmas treat, somewhat resembling gingerbread.
These lebkuchen are soft when they first come out, but quickly harden and become more crisp as they cool. Eating the cookies plain was a bit underwhelming to me, but the chocolate on top converted me 🙂 There is a reason most pics of Lebkuchen are smothered in icing and it’s because they are definitely tastier 🙂 Having something on top adds moisture that seeps into the cookies and softens them up nicely.
Lebkuchen (German Gingerbread Cookies)
Spiced German gingerbread cookies iced with either powdered sugar or bittersweet chocolate.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Add the molasses and corn syrup to your melted butter and stir. Set aside.
Mix your flour, brown sugar, spices, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Add your butter mixture to your dry ingredients and mix well.
Add your eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.
Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop spoonfuls onto your cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them for spreading.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack before icing.
To make your chocolate icing, melt your chocolate and coconut oil together either in the microwave or over a double boiler on low heat.
Add your melted chocolate to a piping bag, snip the tip off, and pipe in a swirl fashion. Start from the inside and work your way out to the edge for half of the cookies.
Decorate with almond slices while chocolate is still wet. You can also take a few almonds and drag them through the excess melted chocolate to set aside for later.
To make your white icing, mix your powdered sugar with a few tablespoons of water to get a flowing icing consistency. Either add a bit more water or a bit more icing to get the thickness you want.
Add your icing to a piping bag, snip the tip off, and pipe in a swirl fashion to the other half of your cookies.
You can either add plain almond slices to the wet icing or use the chocolate dipped almond slices you made earlier for a nice black/white contrast.
Recipe inspired by Just Like Oma.