Monday, October 17, 2011

Mocha Snow Caps - Secret Recipe Club

Mocha Snow Caps - ButterYum

I'm happy to be joining the Secret Recipe Club again this month.  What's the Secret Recipe Club?  Basically, it's a once-a-month blog hop party for food bloggers - each month, participants are assigned another member's blog where they secretly spend time perusing the
assigned blog, pick a recipe, make it, write a blog post about it, and then everyone reveals their secret by publishing their posts at the same time.

My assigned blog - Living Lou ... and guess what - she's only 18 years old!  Lou has a truly wonderful blog.  She's a gifted writer and photographer, and she's a world traveler with a rather sophisticated palate for someone her age.  I'm so impressed with the variety of food she's made over the past year and a half, and I look forward to enjoying what she has to offer for years to come.

So, what recipe did I choose?  It was so hard to pick just one.  I must have glanced at every recipe on Lou's blog 3 or 4 times, each time gravitating to her Snow Cap Cookies.  Lou's beautiful photo hooked me instantly.

My review - Lou describes these cookies as "pure heaven", and I have to agree - they're amazing!  These soft and chewy chocolate and espresso cookies melt in your mouth.  Thanks for introducing our family to a new favorite, Lou :).

Mocha Snow Caps
makes 18 cookies
adapted from

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (Dutch-processed)
2 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon milk
1/3 cup confectioners or icing sugar (for coating)

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.  Melt chocolate and set aside to cool before adding to the other ingredients.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt; set aside until needed.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and brown sugar; beat until light and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add egg and cooled chocolate; mix to combine.

Add the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing well after each addition. Finally mix in the milk and shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic and put in the freezer for about 30 minutes or until firm and easy to work with.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners and prepare a bowl with your powdered sugar. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll into powdered sugar to coat.  Place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. The cookies will spread during baking.

Bake for 12-14 minutes until the cookies have spread and are cracked on top. The cookies will be soft to the touch. Allow them to cool completely.  Enjoy!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls - Crazy Cooking Challenge

Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls - ButterYum
Another no-bake cookie treat to share with you today.  They're a little different than the No Bake Cereal Cookie Balls I made last month, I prefer the look of these as they're dipped in dark chocolate - Hello!  Add  some colorful sprinkles for a fun touch, or leave them unadorned for a more elegant look.

Event - Crazy Cooking Challenge hosted by Tina
Challenge - make a recipe from any blog to fit this month's theme (chocolate chip cookies)
Recipe and Blog I chose to feature - Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls by Joy the Baker
My Tweaks (reflected below) - I doubled the vanilla, added a little shortening to the chocolate coating, and made smaller cookie balls.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls  
adapted from Joy the Baker - makes 30 small cookie dough balls

For the cookies:
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup Greek yogurt (or applesauce or peanut butter)
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

For the chocolate coating:
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, melted for dipping
1/2 tablespoon shortening (for shine)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Beat in yogurt or applesauce or peanut butter along with the vanilla extract and stir to combine.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Add all at once to the butter and sugar mixture and stir until incorporated.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Scoop small or ice cream scoops onto a  waxed paper or Silpat lined cookie sheet.  Place in the freezer overnight or until frozen, at least three hours.

When ready to dip the balls, melt chocolate chips and shortening in a small saucepan over a low heat.  Remove balls from the freezer and dip into warm chocolate.  Return to the lined cookie sheet and return to the freezer to harden.  Serve cold from the freezer.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Light Orange Chicken

Light Orange Chicken - ButterYum
Everybody likes eating Orange Chicken at their favorite Chinese restaurant, but not everyone likes the high fat and calories you get from eating something dipped in batter and deep-fried.  In this lighter version, I give you all the yummy flavor of the original, but reduce the fat and calories by sauteing the chicken.  Sauteing reduces the prep time too, transforming this traditional restaurant favorite into a dish that's easy to make at home.  The sauce bubbles away while you brown the chicken, then the two are combined and served over rice - the whole dish comes together in no time, making it a great option for busy weeknights.  I hope you'll be inspired to give this recipe a try.   

Orange Chicken
Serves 8

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated zest
6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water
Scallions for garnish

In a large saucepan combine the chicken stock, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper.  Bring to boil, whisking to dissolve sugar; reduce heat to low until you're ready to thicken the sauce (have cornstarch and water nearby and ready to combine into a "slurry" when needed).

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute chicken pieces in a little canola oil until nicely browned and cooked through (do this in several batches if necessary).  Remove chicken to a platter; reserve.

To finish the sauce, bring mixture back up to a boil.  Make a slurry by mixing 3 tablespoons cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water; add slurry to boiling sauce and whisk until thick and glossy, about 1-2 minutes; remove from heat.  Combine cooked chicken and sauce and serve over rice.  Garnish with Scallions.

Note - I added one sauteed red bell pepper that I had in the fridge.