Dulce de Leche Shortbread Cookies

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

 

Chocolate-Dipped Marzipan Horns

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 challengeย 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.

 

Marzipan Recipeย 

Chocolate-Dipped Marzipan Horns Recipe

Enjoy!

Chocolate-Dipped Meringue Cookies

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

Enjoy!

Print Recipe
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.
Chocolate-Dipped Meringue Cookies
Course Desserts
Servings
Ingredients
Course Desserts
Servings
Ingredients
Chocolate-Dipped Meringue Cookies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 F and cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. 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.
  3. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, start to mix on low and inch your way up to medium speed until soft peaks form.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
  7. 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!
  8. If you have leftovers (why would you??), then keep them in an airtight container to prevent "chewiness" from absorbing the humidity.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Chowhound's Meringue Mushroom recipe.

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Lebkuchen (German Gingerbread Cookies)

Leb-a-who?? Lebkuchen, i.e. German gingerbread cookies. The baking theme this week (see https://www.reddit.com/r/52weeksofbaking/) was Germany.ย  I’ve always been interested in all thingsย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ There is a reason most pics of Lebkuchen are smothered in icing and it’s because they are definitely tastier ๐Ÿ™‚ Having something on top adds moisture that seeps into the cookies and softens them up nicely.

Enjoy!

Print Recipe
Lebkuchen (German Gingerbread Cookies)
Spiced German gingerbread cookies iced with either powdered sugar or bittersweet chocolate.
Lebkuchen German gingerbread cookies
Course Desserts
Cuisine German
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Course Desserts
Cuisine German
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Lebkuchen German gingerbread cookies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Add the molasses and corn syrup to your melted butter and stir. Set aside.
  3. Mix your flour, brown sugar, spices, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Add your butter mixture to your dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Add your eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.
  6. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop spoonfuls onto your cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them for spreading.
  7. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack before icing.
  8. To make your chocolate icing, melt your chocolate and coconut oil together either in the microwave or over a double boiler on low heat.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Add your icing to a piping bag, snip the tip off, and pipe in a swirl fashion to the other half of your cookies.
  13. 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 Notes

Recipe inspired by Just Like Oma.

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Peanut Blossom Cookies

Peanut Blossoms need no introduction, right? The match made in Heaven that is chocolate and peanut butter. The horrifying thing is I actually lived a large portion of my life not knowing these existed. My world was forever changed when my cousin made some for Christmas and my eyes were opened ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now I have to make up for lost time by baking these babies periodically. I feel like I have it down to a science now, which means I’m either a genius or bake too much. I especially love this recipe here because it uses all butter for those who aren’t a fan of shortening.

Another epiphany (the only word I know that rhymes with Tiffany!) I had about these: bake time is everything. Really just a minute or 2 longer than needed and they’ll get hard and crispy, and my peanut blossoms must be soft!

You will notice in my pic that I used three mini Hershey Kisses instead of one big one. I found those on sale (hence using them instead) but have made them before with regular sized Hershey Kisses, and you know what? The tiny ones are better! You get THREE bites of chocolate in your cookie instead of one, which sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Enjoy!

Print Recipe
Peanut Blossom Cookies
A soft peanut butter cookie topped with miniature Hershey Kisses.
peanut butter blossom cookies
Course Desserts
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Course Desserts
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
peanut butter blossom cookies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F and place parchment paper on your cookie sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together your butter, both sugars, and peanut butter.
  3. When smooth, beat in your egg and add the milk and vanilla.
  4. Sift your flour, baking soda, and salt directly over your bowl of batter.
  5. Use your mixer to blend it all together, making a nice soft dough.
  6. Using a cookie scoop or small spoon, shape the dough roughly a little smaller than a golf ball and roll each one in the 1/3 cup white sugar. Place cookies about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
  7. I bake these for exactly 10 minutes in my oven. You want a nice puffed up and crackly surface that is lightly browned.
  8. Take them out and immediately press 3 mini Hershey Kisses on top; if you wait too long, your kisses won't stick very well in the cookie.
  9. Remove from cookie sheet and set aside to cool on a wire rack. Attempt to avoid eating right away and most likely fail.
Recipe Notes

You could also use regular sized Hershey Kisses or even a few chocolate chips clustered together on top if that is what you have available.

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Easy Strawberry Macarons

Are you intimidated by these little cuties? I really was, especially after reading everywhere how fickle they are, how important technique is, etc. I’ve now made these well over a dozen times and each batch gets better than the last. I think the key is the batter consistency more than anything else. Here are some things I DON’T do, as I haven’t found them necessary for making macarons (macs for short!):

– aging the egg whites (I only separate them an hour or 2 ahead of time to get them to room temp so they whip up better)

– using cream of tartar (I used this for several batches and then left it out, and haven’t seen a difference in my macs)

As we speak I have close to a dozen egg yolks in my fridge leftover from my macaron-making extravaganza, so I’m open to suggestions on what to do with those!

Here are some step-by-step pics to help you along.

Continue reading “Easy Strawberry Macarons”