Candy Cupboard Cookie Bars. For this recipe, I literally used all the bits and pieces of leftover chips, dried cherries, toasted coconut and toffee bits in my cupboard. I always say that my best recipes are the ones that are spontaneous. Take a basic cookie formula and just start adding in some bits and pieces of leftovers to create a delicious treat. And with the added unsalted butter from Cabot, these cookies were a big hit with my husband and his co-workers. Recipes such as this challenge your creativity in the kitchen, something that I really enjoy.
Candy Cupboard Cookie Bars
Ingredients 2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon espresso powder
1 cup Cabot unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup toasted coconut
1/3 cup mini dark choc. chips
1/4 cup toffee bits
Tips~An empty baking pan pressed up against the parchment paper will help keep the dough in place while baking.
1. In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients, flour, baking soda and espresso powder. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray or grease with butter or oil, set aside.
2. Cream the butter with both white and brown sugar for 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the salt, vanilla and one egg at a time.
3. Gradully add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Fold in chips, cherries, coconut and toffee bits.
4. Spread the cookie dough onto a lined baking sheet, and form an 11X9 rectangle. Push down and up against the edges making sure the dough stays on the parchment paper. If the baking sheet has room to spare, use a smaller baking dish pressed up against parchment paper to hold it’s shape during baking. Sprinkle some turbinado sugar over the top. Bake at 350 for 23 to 25 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and let cool before slicing into 24 cookie bars. Store in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
Tips~ You could use a baking dish as well. Just make sure the dough is no more than an inch thick before baking.
Why is it that as we get a certain age we become nostalgic for our childhood favorites? I think that no matter how old we are, those things that we loved as a child transport us to simpler times, happy times… As a child growing up in family of ten, some of my favorite things seem to always revolve around different foods and aromas. The aroma of tamales steaming, chiles roasting on the comal and the sweet aromas when you walk into the Mexican bakeries, La Panaderia. Those are things that stay with you forever. I remember following close behind my Mom or Dad as they placed the fresh baked pan dulce onto the tray. It was always in my best interest to make that trip with them, to ensure I got to pick out my favorite Mexican sweet bread. Two of my favorite’s were and still are were called “besos” (kisses) and “ojo de buey”(eye of the ox), ha, ha, ha! Sometimes the literal translations just don’t translate well, but you getthe idea. Besos are a puffed up sandwich soft cookie with assorted fruit fillings, brushed with melted butter and dusted in fine sugar. The ojo de buey is similar in shape with a raspberry filling, brushed with more raspberry filling and coated with fluffly shredded coconut. So for me this version is the best of both of those. This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found called Scottish Snowballs. I would love to find the authentic recipe for the Mexican version, but that is not always an easy task. And most times if you do find something, it is written for commercial bakeries and is almost impossible to convert to a homecook’s version. So, with my added touches to the scottish recipe, I am very happy with how this recipe turned out. It may not be the original, but it sure did transport me back to la panaderia.
Besos de Coco ~ Snowball Kisses
3/4 cup sugar 4 large eggs 1 teaspoon coconut extract Zest of 1 lemon 1 1/4 cups, plus 2 tablepoons flour, sifted Pinch of salt Your favorite jam, preserves or dulce de leche
For Icing 1 cup powdered sugar 2 tablespoons warm water 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
1. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and eggs. Whisk for 8 to 10 minutes. Mix in the coconut extract and lemon zest
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking shetes with parchment paper. Fold in the flour and salt t just until incorporated. Onto each
baking sheet, drop 12 cookies (about 2 tablespoons of batter). Try to make them as round as possible. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes.
3. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes before removing them from baking sheets. Transfer to a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.
4. Take 12 of the cookies and fill the flat side with about 1 tablespoon of filling. Spread out evenly. Top with another plain cookie, flat side onto filling. In a bowl, add the powdered sugar. Mix in the hot water, lemon juice and vanilla until smooth. Dip one half into glaze and then press into coconut until evenly coated. Repeat with the other half of cookie. Place back onto wire rack until cookies set and dry. Yields 12 sandwich cookies.
For quite sometime I have been searchingfor a sweet, soft yeast dough for preparing empanadas. I have worked with several yeast doughs for pizza, Mexican sweet bread, conchas, pan de huevo and pan de muerto in the passed. Finally a few weeks ago, I saw a picture on Pinterest of what looked like those dark brown, soft pumpkin empanadas my Mom used to purchase at la panaderia. I quickly looked it up and as I read, it sounded just like what I was looking for. Of course the measurements were not in cups and teaspoons, but in kilos and grams. And a recipe with quantities that could feed a whole quiñceanera party, lol! So after a few conversions here and there and a few La Piña added touches, this is what I came up with. I cannot say enough about this dough recipe. If you like a dough that’s easy to work with and bakes up soft and stays soft for days, this one is it! nd the recipe for Pan de Huevo/Conchas that follows is revised from the first several times I prepared the sweet bread. I had learn a few baking tips and was eager to try them out. The pan de huevo was also softer than all the previous time I had prepared it. It’s like I always tell myself when I feel unsure about something, “You will never know until you try”. Glad I tried, and tried and tried again…one never stops learning.
Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Soft Yeast Dough For Empanadas
Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Yeast Dough For Empanadas
4 cups bread flour, sifted 1/2 cup shortening 1/2 cup light brown sugar 1 tablespoon active dry yeast 2 large eggs, beaten 1 tablespoon cinnamon 1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups warm milk
1. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Cut in the shortening until you have small crumbles. Cut in the sugar and yeast until well incorporated.
2. Mix in the eggs and cinnamon. Gradually add in the warm milk until dough forms. Transfer to a flat surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise at room temperature for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
3. Once dough rises, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. Pull off enough dough to make a 1 1/2 ounce dough ball. Roll out to about 4 inches in diameter. Fill with 2 tablespoons of filling. Fold over and press gently around the filling to take out any air. Gently press with the palm of your hand.
4. Using your index finger, make an indentation starting at one end of empanada. Push in and with your thumb and index finger slighlty pinch to seal. Do this all the way across open end. Repeat until done and transfer onto lined baking sheets. Brush the tops of empanadas with egg wash or milk and quickly sprinkle with turbinado sugar or toasted coconut on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Yields up to 24 empanadas.
Tips~ I have tried several things to prevent the dulce de leche from leaking out of the empanadas. One is to whisk in an egg yolk with the dulce de leche before using it as a filling. The other is to brush some eggwash on the edge of empanada when you get ready to seal them. Either way, some may still leak a little. So what I do when they come out of the oven, is I take a spatula and lift the hot dulce de leche and smear it over the top of the empanada, lol! Hey, it works!
Pan de Huevo~ Conchas
Pan de Huevo ~Conchas
Ingredients 1 tablespoon active dry yeast 1 tablespoon sugar or honey 1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degres F)
For Topping 1/2 cup butter, room temp. 1/2 cup powdered sugar 1/2 cup sugar 1 cup flour 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 3 teaspoons vanilla
Tips~ If you want a colored topping, you could add a few drops of food coloring while you mix the ingredients together.
1. In a bowl, combine the yeast, honey and water. Let set for 10 minutes.
2. Cream together the 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup shortening. Mix in the eggs, salt and yeast/water mixture. Place flour, anise seeds and cinnamon in a large bowl, make a well and add in the wet ingredients. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Punch down and divide into 12 balls. Place on greased baking sheet, press down lightly. Cover loosely and let rise for 1 hour. I had a problem with the dough sticking to paper and towel, so I put some toothpicks in the rolls and covered them loosely with plastic wrap.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. While the conchas rise the last hour, prepare the topping. When ready, roll 2 tablespoons of topping into a ball and flatten into a round disc. Place over pan de huevo and score with a knife, careful not to cut into bread. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container with a slice of sandwich bread. This will help them stay moist for a couple of days. Best thing to do is to enjoy them while they are fresh. Yields 12 Pan de Huevo/Conchas.
Tips~ If you have a difficult time working with the topping, you could brush the rolls with milk or eggwash. While they are wet, add some of the crumbled topping on top. Bake as usual.
Tips~ To help dough rise, preheat oven to 200 degrees for 5 minutes. Shut off and place bowl in oven. I di not try this yet, but I will next time.
Embracing my Mexican heritage and sharing all the wonderful flavors, colors and foods I grew up with. Join me on this journey as I also learn new foods and cooking techniques. Dedicated to my parents Ramiro and Blanca.