Chocolate Black Sesame Rugelach

A little bit fussy, Cookies, Food Hoarding Confessions

A little leftover hand pie dough, black sesame paste from my freezer, and a bar of chocolate with almonds all found each other today.

Dough

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, straight from the refrigerator
  • 1 stick butter, straight from the refrigerator
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Black Sesame and Chocolate Filling

  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (with or without almonds), chopped

1 beaten egg and coarse sugar for topping

For the dough: Cut the cream cheese and butter into cubes. Place flour, sugar and salt in food processor and blend. Toss in cream cheese and butter. Pulse until the dough comes together – check it by taking the lid of and pinching some dough – if it sticks together it is ready.

Divide dough into two pieces and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.

For the filling: Toast sesame seeds in a small skillet. Let cool completely. In a food processor or blender, combine cooled sesame seeds, butter and sugar. Process into a paste.

Chop chocolate into small pieces and set aside.

When ready to assemble: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil (these will leak a bit).

Divide the dough into two. One at a time, roll out on lightly floured surface to about a 10-inch circle. Spread 1/2 of black sesame paste onto one circle and sprinkle half the chopped chocolate on top.

Cut the circle into 16 pieces, like a pizza, first in half, then quarters, then into eighths, etc… Roll up each triangle starting with the fat end of the triangle. Place on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

If desired, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Oatmeal Butterscotch Bars

Cookies, Unfussy

These are chewy, rich and delicious. The brown butter is key.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups butterscotch chips
  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 inch pan with a foil sling (leave foil overhanging out of the pan to make removing the bars easier). Lightly grease the foil.

Combine flour, oats, soda and salt in a medium bowl. Place butterscotch chips in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue to cook until the butter is brown and nutty – this could take up to 15 minutes or so. Pour browned butter over the butterscotch chips, scraping all the brown bits at the bottom of the saucepan and including them too. Whisk until butterscotch chips are melted. Whisk in brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in eggs and vanilla.

Stir flour mixture into butter mixture until well combined. Pour into prepared pan and smooth evenly.

Bake for 35 minutes, until the edges are brown and the center is just firm.

Let cook completely in the pan before lifting out and cutting into squares.

This recipe is adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

Homebakers Collective February Challenge:

Cookies, Fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge

What Kind of Macaron Are You?

Blackberry Mint Macarons

Tangy, sweet and fresh – just like yours truly.

Fresh ‘n Tart Blackberry Mint Jam:

  • 1 pint fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped fresh mint

Fresh Mint Macarons:

  • 200g almond flour
  • 200g powdered sugar
  • 150ml egg whites, room temperature, divided
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 60 ml water
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine blackberries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, crushing blackberries with a fork or spoon as they start releasing their juices. Cook for 15 minutes, until thick. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Strain using a mesh strainer to remove most of the seeds. I like to add 1 TBSP of the seeds back into the smooth mixture and discard the rest. Refrigerate.

Line 3 baking sheets with silicon mats (preferred) or parchment. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip.

Whisk the almond flour and powdered sugar to combine. Press through a fine mesh strainer, into a large bowl, using your fingers or a rubber spatula to work it through.

Place 75 ml of egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer. Put the other 75 ml into the bowl of almond flour and stir with a rubber spatula until it is a smooth, thick paste. Let sit.

In a small saucepan, combine water and granulated sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Swirl pan gently to dissolve the sugar. Insert a candy thermometer and cook until syrup reaches 245 degrees. Meanwhile, whip egg whites in stand mixer on medium speed until they reach medium peaks. When the syrup has reached temperature, pour it slowly down the side of the stand mixer bowl while mixer is running. Once all syrup has been incorporated, increase mixer to high and beat until the meringue is stiff and has cooled to lukewarm, about 10 minutes.

Add the cooled meringue to the almond flour mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and flows off the spatula easily. Mix in the fresh mint until well combined.

Fill pastry bag with half the mixture and pipe onto prepared baking sheets in 2″ rounds, leaving space between them as they will spread. Once the cookie sheet is full, drop it onto the counter from about 12″ high to get rid of any air bubbles in the batter. Continue piping rounds until all the mixture is used.

Set the cookie sheets aside until the macaron batter dries and forms a skin – when pressed lightly with a fingertip the batter will be dry, not tacky.

When the macarons are dry, bake one sheet at a time for 12 minutes, rotating pan at 6 minutes, until they are firm but are still pale.

Let cool completely before peeling off and matching.

Place all cream cheese filling ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping bowl if necessary. Do not over-whip.

Fit pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip and fill with frosting.

Match macaron shells

Stir 1 TBSP fresh mint into cooled blackberry jam.

Pipe a ring of cream cheese filling around the base of one macaron shell. Fill the center generously with blackberry mint jam. Top with second macaron shell, pressing down gently to seal. Repeat.

Place sandwiched macarons in an airtight container, or wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Cookies, Unfussy

I know this is controversial, but I think the oatmeal raisin cookie may just be the best cookie out there. These are soft and chewy. You can bake these right after mixing, but they keep their shape better if you refrigerate the dough for an hour before baking.

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups quick oats
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugars together until smooth. Add honey and vanilla and mix. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl as needed. Mix in flour, baking soda and salt until well blended. Stir in oats and raisins, scrape the bowl and mix well.

Shape into balls using about 2 tablespoons of dough, (or use a cookie scoop) and place onto a cookie sheet to chill in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

When ready to bake, put onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet about 3″ apart. Bake for 12-18 minutes until light brown.

Tell people that yes, they do have raisins, but just try them already.

Hello Dolly Bars

Cookies, Food Hoarding Confessions, Unfussy

These are completely uncalled for. This is a variation of a hand-written recipe titled “Hello Dolly Cookies” that has been in my recipe box for years, but I have no idea who’s handwriting it is (please let me know if this sounds familiar). It was a very forgiving recipe – I used up a variety of cookie crumbs and flavored chips that I was food-hoarding in the pantry. You could do the same. These are sweet.

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade speculoos cookie crumbs (or Biscoff or graham cracker crumbs)
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips (these can be hard to find, but they are not too sweet so I like them. I get them at the Amish grocery store in Iowa.)
  • 1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs ( I used some of my chocolate shortbread cookie crumbs)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a 9″ square pan. Sprinkle speculoos/graham cracker cookie crumbs over butter and mix a little bit, then spread evenly. Sprinkle evenly over the top in this order: coconut, then chocolate chips, then cinnamon chips, then chocolate cookie crumbs. Pour condensed milk evenly over the top. Finally, sprinkle pecans.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until they are well-caramelized and not too gooey. They shouldn’t be wet when you press in the center.

Cool completely before cutting into small squares. Makes 16 diabetic sugar bombs.

Cream Cheese Cookies

Cookies, Unfussy

This is a slightly adapted version of my Grandma Suzie’s favorite Christmas cookie. They are a not-too-sweet slice-and-bake cookie. The beauty (and problem) with them is that they can be eaten at any time of day or night, even if you are not hungry in the least.

  • 14 TBSP butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs green food coloring
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • red hots

Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and several drops of green food coloring (the color will fade significantly after you add the flour, so make it a little brighter than you’d like). Stir in flour, salt, and baking powder and mix well until a uniform dough is formed.

Shape into 2 rolls, each about 12 inches long. Wrap in wax paper and freeze until firm.

When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If desired, roll outside of dough in colored sugar. Slice about 1/4 inch thick and place on lined baking sheets, about an inch apart. Press red hots into center. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until firm to the touch.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Snowballs

Cookies, Unfussy

Man oh man are these good. My grandmother made these with all oatmeal and called them a humbler version of Mexican wedding cakes. I like to split the difference and do half oats and half pecans. I don’t think it’s possible to mess these up.

  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toast pecans on a baking sheet in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Let cool completely.

Cream butter and sugar in a mixer with paddle attachment. Add vanilla and mix. Add flour, salt, oats and cooled pecans and mix until combined thoroughly.

Scoop or shape into balls and place on a lined baking sheet – only about an inch apart as these do not spread. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Coat in powdered sugar and let cool completely on cooling rack before storing.

Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate and Ginger

Cookies, Unfussy

These are my favorite shortbread-style cookies – the dough is easy to work with for rolling and cutting out. Chocolate and ginger is a tasty combination, but you could put anything in there. Or nothing. Perfect for that card club you’re hoping will gain some traction.

  • 1 1/4 cups (142g) powdered sugar
  • 18 TBSP (255g) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups (326g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (165g) chopped candied ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups (200g) chocolate chips

Combine sugar, butter, egg yolk, salt and vanilla in a stand mixer with paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the flour and mix until incorporated. When the dough starts to come together, add the ginger and chocolate chips, stir until well mixed.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Remove from refrigerator and let dough soften for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out to the thickness of the chocolate chips, using extra flour to keep from sticking, if necessary. Cut in desired shapes, place on cookie sheets leaving about an inch between cookies (they don’t expand much at all).

Bake 15 minutes, until the edges just start to show some color.

This recipe is modified from King Arthur Flour

Brownies

Cookies, Unfussy

These are everything I want in a brownie. My sister-in-law, Lindsay, kept trying different brownie recipes until she found her favorite, and her dedication paid off. Now it is the favorite of everyone I know. This recipe is from King Arthur. Himself.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 TBSP vanilla
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose or a combination of all-purpose and whole wheat)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used mint chips, pictured)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease, or line with a foil sling, a 9×13″ pan.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add sugar and stir until hot but not bubbling. Remove from heat. Stir in cocoa, baking powder, salt and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, and whisk until incorporated. Stir in flour and chocolate chips. (I opted to sprinkle mint chips on top… this time)

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the middle is set. Cool completely before cutting. Or not.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Cookies, Unfussy

These are my favorite peanut butter cookies. I wouldn’t kick you out of bed for putting chocolate chips in them. This recipe is from the Fannie Farmer cookbook, one of my favorite cookbooks of all time.

  • 1 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I prefer Trader Joe’s salted creamy)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (optional)
  • extra 1/2 cup granulated sugar for coating fork

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment or grease lightly.

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and beat well, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add peanut butter and beat to blend. Add baking soda and flour and stir to combine well. Add chocolate chips if using.

Scoop onto cookie sheets, or roll into balls and place on cookie sheets – about 3 TBSP per cookie, spaced about 2-3 inches apart. Put extra sugar in a small bowl, using a fork, dip in sugar, then press down on each cookie into criss-cross pattern, smushing the cookie to flatten quite a bit (they don’t spread much when baking).

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to show some color, but do not over-bake.