Chocolate Stuffed Almond Cookies

Chocolate Stuffed Marzipan Cookies

Chocolate Stuffed Marzipan Cookies

We just finished the coldest Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on record here in New York City so that means it’s now officially the holiday season and COLD. I haven’t posted in just about 2 years but something about this fall meets winter time of year gets me in the baking and sharing mood. So to break my hiatus, I’m sharing these easy yet crave-worthy super soft Chocolate Stuffed Almond Cookies.

Cookies are probably the easiest dessert to bake and share with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and really anyone during the holiday season. They are the classic go-to for festive baking and it seems very few people will turn down a good cookie. Even that friend that’s constantly on some new healthy diet will make an exception and at least break off a little piece of one. Then there are those of us who have a hard time stopping at 2 or 3 cookies, especially ones that contain gooey chocolate and almond paste, a taste commonly associated with Marzipan this time of year. The almond paste makes these chewy delights just festive enough to pass as holiday cookies but not so festive that you wouldn’t be able to enjoy a batch whenever you please.

Chocolate Stuffed Almond Cookies

You’re probably more accustomed to seeing marzipan in the shape of fruits or maybe occasionally stuffed in chocolate, especially in Germany or perhaps Belgium. But these Chocolate Stuffed Almond Cookies offer a fluffy chewy texture that is often lacking in plain sugary marzipan sweets. Fresh out of the oven, these have that same lovely almond flavor associated with marzipan, but a more balanced sweetness and light almost cake-like exterior that hides a gooey chocolate surprise.

Happy Cookie Baking! And Eating!

Chocolate Stuffed Almond Cookies

1 dozen

Ingredients

5 ounces almond paste
½ cup butter, softened (1 stick)
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 oz of your favorite Dark Chocolate (recommended: Dove)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Break or chop the almond paste up into small pieces. Mix the almond paste with the butter in a large mixing bowl until combined.

Add sugars and mix until creamy. Add the eggs and the vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the butter sugar mixture and stir until just combined.

Chill 15-30 minutes. Meanwhile break the chocolate into roughly ¾-1 inch pieces.

Take a heaping spoonful of dough and flatten in the center. Place a piece of chocolate in the center of the dough ball and fold the dough over the top to completely cover the chocolate. Place onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cookies are just turning golden brown on the edges and just starting to turn golden on top but still appear soft.

Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Serve warm!

Makes about 1 dozen

Almond Chocolate Cookies

Looking for a great charity to donate to this season? Check out Cookies for Kids Cancer

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Baked Apple Snack Stacks

Baked Apple Snack Stacks

Baked Apple Snack Stacks

Every fall I try to think of fun and different Apple recipes to take advantage this awesome autumn fruit with its growing number of varieties. My grandmother has many tasty Apple dessert recipes in “The Art of Fine Baking.” I’ve been baking my way through them and posting those such as Apple Cheesecake Puff and Sauteed Apple Cake on this site. The majority of these Apple recipes are more refined desserts, fit for a crowd or dinner party. I often crave something easier, something that takes the idea of Apple pie but simplifies, making it guilt-free in the process. Well maybe not entirely guilt-free, but at least more so than a traditional Apple pie or the over-the-top (but awesomely delicious) Stuffed Baked Apples with Homemade Caramel Sauce I made last year. These sweet cinnamon baked apple snack stacks are the perfect compromise.

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Cookie Butter Molten Lava Cakes

Cookie Butter Molten Lava Cake

Cookie Butter Molten Lava Cake

If you’re not familiar with speculoos or cookie butter, you’re missing out. This growing trend started a few years ago and is now said to be one of Trader Joe’s best selling products. Some may argue that the popularity of cookie butter peaked back in 2014 but I see more of it now, especially in baked goods, than I did then. It’s a deliciously simple concept: ground spiced shortbread cookies and oil are made into a spreadable butter, similar to peanut butter or nutella. The idea seems to have come from Belgium and Biscoff was one of the first, most recognizable brands in the US. The dessert-like spread is a wonderful nut-free alternative for those with nut allergies and although it’s easy to eat by the spoonful or simply on toast, it turns out this sweet spiced cookie spread makes an amazing molten lava cake.

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Crème Brûlée

Classic Creme Brûlée

Creme Brulee

 

Crème brulee is one of those semi-fancy French-American desserts that often seems too pretentious to make at home. This rich custard, also known as burnt cream – a reference to its hard caramelized top layer, is not as fussy to make as it looks. Those familiar with crème brulee may think you need those cute little kitchen blow torches to make it properly. A blow torch is definitely more fun but not necessary. This dessert was around long before anyone determined a blow torch was the best way to caramelize the sugar on top of the cream. I can’t imagine my grandmother using a blow torch in the 1960’s, when she did the majority of her cooking and baking. Although this is not her recipe, it was published around the same time period in 1961 in “The New York Times Cookbook,” by friend and colleague, Craig Claiborne.

So what can you use instead of a blow torch? The broiler, of course. The texture may not be as perfect but a similar sugary glass-like shell can be achieved. Shallow ramekins (unlike the ones shown here) will also help the cooking process. They simply allow the crème to bake faster and provide more surface area for caramelization. Blow torch or not, that first spoonful of the crispy burnt caramel with rich vanilla crème will make the few extra steps to make this impressive dessert, well worth it.

Ingredients:

3 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons sugar
6 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Heat cream over boiling water (in a double boiler) and stir in sugar. Beat the egg yolks until light and pour the hot cream over them gradually, stirring vigorously. Stir in the vanilla and strain the mixture into ramekins.

Place the dishes in a pan containing one inch of hot water and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, or 35 minutes. Do not over-bake. The custard will continue to cook from retained heat when it is removed from the oven. Chill thoroughly.

Before serving, cover surface with brown sugar. Set the dishes in a pan with cracked ice and put under the broiler until sugar is brown and melted. Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8.

 

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Devils Food Cake with Meringue Frosting

Chocolate Devils Food Cake

Chocolate Devils Food Cake with Meringue Frosting

There is something magical about meringue. The process of whipping liquid egg whites into a sugary pillow-like mass is not just satisfying, but fun. From cookies and marshmallows to frosting recipes such as this, there are multiple uses for shiny sweet meringue. Despite whatever the intended purpose, I can’t seem to resist dipping my fingers into the bright soft fluff and eating most of it before it makes it out of the mixing bowl.

This meringue frosting recipe, inspired from “The Art of Fine Baking,” is really just a basic Italian Meringue: the egg whites are “cooked” by beating in a water sugar mixture that has been heated to soft ball stage (238 degrees). This process creates an extra shiny thick meringue, which is all the more irresistible. Butter can also be added to create a meringue buttercream. I skipped this step because I personally don’t think the frosting needs butter. The greasy addition also makes it much easier for the meringue to break down and create a soggy mess.

But enough about meringue, let’s talk cake. I know I need to be more open minded but whenever I make a cake, it usually has a chocolate component. In this case, the cake itself is chocolate since the meringue frosting is not. I also took it one step further and added melted chocolate to a small amount of the frosting for a chocolate surprise in the middle layer. This of course is optional. The cake is a Red Devils Food Cake recipe that I adapted from “The New York Times Cookbook“ by Craig Claiborne, a good friend of my grandmother. It’s a basic chocolate cake with just the right amount of moistness. Paired with the meringue frosting, it becomes impressive and indulgent. I dare you to eat just one slice.

Ingredients:

Devils Food Cake
1 3/4 cup sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Meringue Frosting
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon corn syrup
3 egg whites
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottoms of two 9-inch layer cake pans, line with waxed paper or parchment paper and grease the paper.

Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, and salt. Add the oil and 2/3 cup of the milk and mix. Beat two minutes. Add remaining ingredients and beat two minutes longer.

Turn the batter into the prepared pans and bake on the lower shelf of the oven until the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center, 30-35 minutes.

Cool the cake in the pan five minutes. Turn out on rack, remove paper, and frost as desired.

For the meringue frosting:

Combine 2/3 cup of sugar with water and corn syrup in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Raise heat and boil syrup without stirring until a candy thermometer reads 238 degrees, or a few drops of syrup form a soft ball in cold water.

While syrup is cooking, beat egg whites with pinch of salt until they form soft peaks. Gradually beat in vanilla extract and remaining sugar, a little at a time, until whites are firm. Pour boiling syrup in a fine stream over whites, beating constantly. Continue beating until completely smooth and stiff. Cool.

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