Tag Archives: Cookies

Ancho Chile Brownie Cookies

The Backstage Baker is still in San Diego at the Old Globe Theater.  But now that tech and previews for Rain are over, he’s had time to bake again.  As he told me, “Inspired by the tastes and flavors of being so close to Mexico I made some Ancho Chili Brownie Cookies.”

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Ancho-Chile Brownie Cookies on the tech table.  (Headset, God mic and Altoids to the right.)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 healthy teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 -3/4  teaspoon ground ancho chile pepper (depending how much heat you like)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon, and ground chile pepper. Set aside.

In a large bowl beat butter and margarine. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, and baking soda. Stir until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Add the flour mixture. Stir in chocolate pieces and almonds.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons about 3 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm.

Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool.

Makes about 4 dozen

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Cast members Betsy Morgan, Marie-France Arcilla, Jeremy Davis, Rusty Ross, Mike Sears, Eden Espinosa the final day in the rehearsal room. Rehearsal set in the background.

 

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Valentine’s Day Cookies — Reprise

vday cookies

First, a Hamilton update:

They’ve extended the run at the Public a third time (or is the fourth?) to May 3, and even before it’s opened, the show is the talk of the town.  Check out last Sunday’s NY Times article in the Arts and Leisure section.  If you still remember hard copy newspapers, this article was on the first page of the section and above the fold, which is a big deal in theater press agent land:

Above the fold

And since I’m on the topic, check out this New Yorker cartoon  (you know you’ve made it when the New Yorker mentions you in a cartoon!!):

 

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But now for the cookies:  I blogged this recipe back in February of 2013, and I’ve been making these treats for years, ever since James shared the recipe with me.  James tells me he too is making a batch of these for Valentine’s Day this year, so I figured I might as well re-blog it for the holiday.  (James, I must mention, has these nifty little cookie presses that put the words in his cookies.  No idea where he got them from (Sur la Table?  Broadway Panhandler?) and I have never seen them anywhere, but I love them!)

With a recipe this simple, using the best quality ingredients you can find/afford really makes a difference.  For example, I like to use Kerrygold Irish Butter, 100% pure vanilla extract, Ghirardelli baking cocoa, and Nestle’s chips.  But don’t let this list deter you from making these cookies — it’s always better to choose to bake no matter what ingredients you have on hand!  (And, full disclosure, I never have all those ingredients on hand anyway.  Someday, though, I will.  And the cookie presses!)

Valentine’s Day Cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup butter softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 cup vanilla chips
2 Tablespoons shortening
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Method:

1.            Cream butter and sugar, beat in vanilla.  Combine flour and cocoa in a separate bowl and gradually add to creamed mixture.

2.            On lightly floured surface roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with heart cookie cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

3.            For icing, melt vanilla chips and 1 tablespoon of shortening.  (I do this in the microwave in short, 10 second bursts, stirring between each zap.)  Dip both end of cookies into melted mixture. Heat chocolate chips and remaining shortening and drizzle over dipped cookies.  (I find the best way to drizzle is to scrape the slightly cooled, melted chocolate into a zip top bag, seal it, snip off a tiny corner and squeeze.)

World Peace Cookies

The Backstage Baker is Back on Broadway!  After taking a holiday hiatus (where he went back to Wisconsin to bake with his mother and brew beer with his brothers,) James is back in rehearsals, this time for “All the Way” starring Bryan Cranston as LBJ.  It’s a limited run, and it looks like it promises to be a hot ticket, so get yours NOW!

All the Way Art

Sunday was the first  “Wine and Unwind” with the company, and in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr,’s birthday, James baked World Peace Cookies. These were originally baked by Pierre Herme for his restaurant Korova off the Champs Elysees in Paris. Dorie Greenspan included the recipe in her book “Paris Sweets” but called them World Peace Cookies because her neighbor became convinced that a daily dose of these cookies was all that is needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness.

The wine served was a sublimely matched South African Pinotage from House of Mandela.

World Peace Cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons total) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cups (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur del sel (you can also use 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Method:

1.  Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.  Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

2.  Turn off the mixer. Pour in the dry ingredients. If using a stand mixer drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. I just used a wooden spoon to mix and it worked well and I did not have to worry about over mixing.

3.  Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

4.  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 °F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Using a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.)

Step 1

Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be.

Baked

5.  Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

Brandon Dirden MLK

Brandon Dirden, who plays Martin Luther King, Jr.,  enjoying World Peace.

PAs Sarah Perlin Laura WilsonProduction Assistants Sarah Perlin and Laura Wilson.

Voice and Text Director Rebecca Clark Carey

Voice and Text Director Rebecca Clark Carey

 

Gluten-free Good Friday Cookies

James gave me this recipe a while ago, and then they were titled “Black Friday Cookies” to be whipped up and enjoyed the day after Thanksgiving.  No idea why!  But since I’m interspersing our cheesecake recipes with gluten-free ones (for health!), and since Good Friday is coming up, I thought I’d just change the name slightly to be timely.  (Yeah, I know, that’s a bit of a stretch.)GF Chocolate Cookies

Now, the more I experiment with gluten-free baking, the more I understand the importance of reading labels and ingredient quality.  Take this recipe for example — there’s no flour at all in it, but lots of confectioners’ sugar. That should be gluten-free, but I’ve learned that since corn is increasingly being used for bio-fuels, and since we had such a bad corn growing summer last year, corn prices have gone up.  Therefore, some companies are substituting wheat starch for corn starch in their confectioners’ sugar.  Obviously, this would not be gluten-free then. The only solution, then, is to read your labels religiously.  Who knew that ingredients changed?  (I’m sure that this is second nature to those of you who suffer from food allergies, or have been gluten-free for a while, but it is an epiphany for me.)

That said, do not be afraid — this recipe only has six ingredients.  You can afford to take the time (and spend the money!) to make sure each one is of superior quality.  Spend a little extra on good vanilla, high quality cocoa powder and chocolate chips.  You’ll taste the difference!

Gluten-free Good Friday Cookies

Ingredients:

3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (make sure they’re gluten-free!)

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper (or silpat mats). If you use parchment paper, give it a light swoosh of nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together powdered sugar with cocoa powder and salt. Whisk in egg whites (start with just two) and vanilla extract, then beat just until the batter is moistened. You’re looking for a brownie-like, thick and fudgy consistency. If it seems too thick, add another egg white — then a 4th one if it still seems too thick. Gently stir in chocolate chips.

3. Spoon batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced mounds per cookie sheet. I like to use a small spring-release cookie scoop. Bake about 14 minutes, until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto wire racks. Let cookies cool completely before you attempt to remove them from the mat or the parchment. They’re delicate, so gently peeling the paper away from the cookie works best.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Valentine’s Cookies

So how did the cast and crew of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” celebrate Valentine’s Day?   With a tin of chocolate heart cookies baked by James, of course!

vday cookies

There’s really not much else to do here but offer up the recipe which is so very simple and divine.

Please to enjoy . . .

Ingredients:

1 cup butter softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 cup vanilla chips
2 Tablespoons shortening
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Method:

1.            Cream butter and sugar, beat in vanilla.  Combine flour and cocoa in a separate bowl and gradually add to creamed mixture.

2.            On lightly floured surface roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with heart cookie cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

3.            For icing, melt vanilla chips and 1 tablespoon of shortening.  (I do this in the microwave in short, 10 second bursts, stirring between each zap.)  Dip both end of cookies into melted mixture. Heat semi-sweet chips and remaining shortening and drizzle over dipped cookies.  (I find the best way to drizzle is to scrape the slightly cooled, melted chocolate into a zip top bag, seal it, snip off a tiny corner and squeeze.)