Saturday, January 10, 2009

Partners in Crime: These Little Treats Share Complementary Ingredients

In order to savor my last weekend before school really starts (I only had 2 out of 4 classes last week and thus very little homework), I decided to have a cooking day on Friday. One of my school meetings was cancelled, and I had already done most of my reading for next week; thus, I was left wondering what to do with myself. I had been planning to make cheese on Sunday but found myself with a serendipitously free day, something unheard of in my past life as a teacher. After waking up late (9:30 anyone?) and feeling a little bit guilty, I set out making cheese and then baking cookies, which lasted pretty much all day until I went to see Benjamin Button. If my posts were about movies, I would write about that, but since they are instead about delectable treats that delight the taste buds, I will tell you about my cookies.

Steve and I planned to make a trip to Grand Rapids tonight (Saturday) to have dinner with a childhood friend of his who is home from England, and we had agreed to take a dessert. Because we were going to be busy looking at houses most of the day on Saturday, I needed to make a dessert on Friday. However, I had several challenges to take into consideration. First, I needed something that would hold up well, as we would not be consuming this baked good for a full 24 hours. Second, I had leftover cream cheese from the carrot cupcake frosting that I wanted to use up. Third, it started snowing on Friday morning around 11 a.m. and I was not going to get in the car and go anywhere to get ingredients. These challenges were somewhat fun to work with in the beginning, but you know how the story goes. If you give a mouse a cookie...

The recipe I found in my Martha Stewart cookbook for Cheesecake Thumbprints would leave me with two stray egg whites, and so I was obliged to find yet another recipe that would utilize those orphan whites: macaroons filled the demand. I used Carol Walters' recipe for "Black Bottom Coconut Macaroons," a recipe my mom had made once (much better than the ones I turned out, I have to admit); however, if you do not have almond paste or chocolate on hand, I have also included below another, more basic, recipe for coconut macaroons. As it turned out, our trip to Grand Rapids was snowed out and postponed until next weekend. Nevertheless, the unexpected time has allowed me to write this and to dream about the pink house we looked at today (yes, there are apparently real live pink houses in Ann Arbor--just what I've always dreamed about). To pink houses, macaroons, and cream cheese--happy baking.

Cheesecake Thumbprints:

4 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/2 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt, plus a pinch
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp sour cream (I used milk and a drop of white vinegar because I didn't have sour cream and it was snowing heavily)
1/8 tsp vanilla
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temp
2 cup flour

Mix cream cheese with 1/4 cup of sugar and salt. Add 1 egg yolk, "sour cream" and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Refrigerate 3o min.

Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter and remaining 1/4 c sugar. Add 1/4 tsp salt and egg yolk; beat to combine. Add flour and mix until just combined. Shape dough into balls and place on greased baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Use a lightly floured wooden spoon to make an indent in the cookies.

Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and make indentations again. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes until golden. Cool completely on a wire rack. Fill each indentation with about 1 tsp of cream cheese filling. Return to oven; bake until firm, 7 to 8 minutes. Cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours; the cookies can be refrigerated overnight.

The cookies before they are baked.

Black Bottom Coconut Macaroons

1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
8 oz almond paste
1/4 c plus 2 T sugar
1/4 c plus 2 T powdered sugar
1/8 c sifted cake flour
2 egg whites, at room temp
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coconut extract (I didn't use this)

Dipping: 2 oz semisweet chocolate and 1 1/2 tsp vegetable (I used about 4 oz chocolate)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees; grease 2 baking sheets. Process coconut in the bowl of a food processor until finely chopped (or chop by hand). Beat almond paste in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add sugars and mix together. Then mix in flour. In a separate bowl, whisk the whites and pour into the almond mixture until just blended. Fold in the coconut extract. Let batter stand 10 minutes. Use a star tip to pipe 1 1/2 -inch stars about 1 1/2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake about 15 to 20 minutes until just golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Add the vegetable oiler. While cookies are warm, dip bottom into chocolate. Place on cookie sheet lined with waxed paper or parchment paper. Let rest 2-3 hours. Remove and place in airtight containers.

Simple Macaroons, Courtesy of Martha Stewart

1/4 c sugar
2 1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut
2 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine sugar, coconut, egg whites, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. For 1 1/2 T of mixture into a loose haystack shape and place on greased cookie sheet. Repeat, spacing cooking 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool. Store up to 3 days.


Alexa said...

I want to have time to bake! I think time to sit down and eat must come first though....ahhh, family medicine will come in March and I will be free!


K-kitten said...

Elena, those cheesecake thumbprints sound great! I may try them next time I have leftover cream cheese lying around.

P.S. I don't know if I ever told you that I am the HUGEST fan of your blog name.