Breakfast in a cookie!

I’m always looking for ways to put breakfast into other forms… one way is by incorporating bacon into as many typical baked goods as I can. Spicy Chocolate Bacon Pie, Whiskey Maple Bacon Cupcakes… you know. But it always leads to speculation about how to get the eggs involved without losing them into the batter.

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Lately Jane (my office baking buddy) and I have been experimenting with meringue and it finally dawned on us that you can put just about anything in meringue and it’ll be awesome.  She likes to make savoury muffins and we theorized about a savory cookie, among other things. Eventually the conversation turned to bacon and the realization that if there’s no sugar, you can add whatever you want in the savoury direction! Namely, in my fantasies, bacon and hash browns. 😀

How could it go wrong?! 3 ingredients. Simple.  Well, somehow I managed to mess up the eggs… Apparently I don’t whip eggs without sugar often enough… At one point, I had mostly stiff peaks and I said ‘Almost there’ and then it went foamy… *sigh* I was on a timeline for <insert reason here> and I just went with it.   I folded in the bacon, and potato and in the oven they went!

(I have since learned that egg whites won’t stabilize well without a little sugar. So next time, I will be adding a couple tablespoons. )

They did not puff up macaroon style, due to the fluffy egg situation, but they still held together and formed a bacon, potato, foamy-egg cluster! They are actually pretty awesome and in my estimation and can only get better. I’m going to have to buy another 18 pack of eggs…

RECIPE

1 medium potato
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp sugar
3-4 strips of bacon

mmmm bacon.

Cook the bacon crispy and chop it into small pieces.

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Shred the potatoes. I used my really fine grater because I was hoping for a shredded coconut feel. I baked the shredded potatos for a bit but due to time constraints, and the fact that they already weren’t what I had in mind, I threw what I had in the mini-food processor and it turned into little potato nuggets.

Beat the eggs to stiff peaks.

Fold in the potato and bacon bits.  Since the eggs were fluffy, the batter, if you could call it that, was a little wet…but it worked out.

Spoon little teaspoon sized clumps onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 325°C for 10 -15 minutes. Keep an eye on them.

They came out looking like potato bacon clouds. And they taste like it too! However, they are not meringuey at all.  I will try again. I need to experience the poofy-crispy-chewy meringue goodness, flecked with bacon and bits of toasted potato. I love it.

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Wild Mushroom & Blue Cheese crackers

I love making my own crackers.  They’re infinitely more tasty than store bought (as is most homemade stuff) and they’re basically like savory cookies.

These crackers are great on their own because they are so full of flavour – but I usually serve them with my favourite cheese-ball recipe.  (I’ll have to post that later because I didn’t take any pictures of the making of it!) It’s actually almost a shame to cover these crackers in cheese… But I do it anyway. Because cheese.

The recipe is pretty simple and your kitchen will smell like heaven while they’re baking. Although, before the baking part, people who are not a fan of blue cheese may suggest it smells otherwise! haha. But I long ago discovered that the stinkier the cheese the better it tastes.

Ok, so back to crackers.  They are a staple of the party munchy, especially combined with cheese, and when they’re homemade they make quite a impression.  I never even considered the idea of making my own crackers before I found this recipe. I also didn’t even like blue cheese OR mushrooms… (Why exactly did I make them? hmm…) But boy I’m glad I did.

I usually use typical cracker shape cookie cutters to make them; square, round, rectangular etc… But this time I decided to get festive and make them with Christmas shapes.  Being that cracker dough is very elastic it tends to start shrinking immediately after being rolled out and then moreso in the oven. It doesn’t shrink evenly either! My first batch turned out OK and kept their shape nicely… By the end, however, not so much.

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This should be a Santa head. Fluffy beard on the bottom, hat on top with the little pompom off the side… You can see it, right? 🙂

Crackers

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1/4oz dried wild mushrooms – like chantrelle or porcini.
1/2  cup unsalted butter, softened
8oz blue cheese
2 cup all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup milk
coarse salt

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Crumble blue cheese into a large bowl.

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Add softened butter.

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Beat on medium speed until creamy.

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Finely grind dried mushrooms in a spice grinder. Add to cheese mix with flour and black pepper.  Stir until just combined.

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Add milk and mix until mixture comes together. It will be quite stiff. (I use my hands to get this last part done).
Preheat oven to 350°F.

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Divide it into disks, wrap 2 in plastic and set aside.

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Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/16″ thick.
Cut out cracker shapes with cookie cutters much larger than you think necessary (about 3 1/2″ round). The shrinking will reduce them to reasonable size!

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Pierce with fork several times and sprinkle lightly with salt.
(Although this image seems to be lacking both salt and pokes)

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Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

They will last in an airtight container about 1 week – but good luck getting them to last that long.

Together at last!

Cheese and coffee. Two of my favourite things on this planet have been combined and the result is amazing.

The wonderful people at Beehive Cheese Co. have created a delicious slice of heaven with their award winning Barely Buzzed.

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I don’t have any picture of my own sample because it didn’t last long enough.  It is so creamy and tastes of caramel and chocolaty coffee. I need more. Which is a problem because I haven’t managed to find it locally, but I’m sure its out there. It will be found! 😀

Mo’ Staches

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Movember is upon us again! Its still early, but I’ve been up to my knees in staches since a few days before the month started.

My plan was to start the cookie baking on the Tuesday before the 1st .  Get the dough done and bake a few batches, too. But, low and behold… I was missing my ‘stache cookie cutters! /despair

After a good hour of tearing apart my pantry and periods of standing in the centre of my kitchen lamenting my forgetfulness through some cathartic cursing, I remembered that I had lent them to someone last year. I managed to pick them up from her on Wednesday and although my plans were a day behind, it all worked out. Although, I can’t say I saw a lot of my bed…

Again this year I was making them for a Mo bake sale we do at my office but I was also selling them at a Movember event: Close Shave 2: The Next Generation. (Pictures here!) I think Nov 1st was a pretty good day for the Mo campaign!

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This weekend I got in the mood to make meringue cookies, so why not meringue moustaches! I used my chocolate macaron recipe and my trusty Fuzzy Ink cookie cutters and was pretty surprised with the results.  At first I actually tried to make the staches freehand… but I didn’t have the right tip for what I had envisioned, so I went for the cookie cutters to help with the shape.


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They’re a little rough looking, but still pretty awesome! Some of them even have a bit of a pied.  They’re perfect texture, crispy with a little soft in the centre. If I make these again, I would use star tip to give them a bit of a moustachey texture… But these are just for me to munch on, so fancy isn’t a requirement.

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Tuiles

How is it that I always manage to go out on the day it rains and stay inside baking all day when it’s beautiful? I guess I should check the weather more often…

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So on this beautiful sunday I spent all day in the kitchen, minus a quick hop to the grocery store for almond flour. The sun was shining, the sky was clear, and my oven was on from 13:00 till almost 21:00. I keep thinking I must have turned it off at some point but  I don’t think i did! oh my…

I’ve been rather lax in my posting these days and feeling guilty about it. I’ve been baking, just not anything which would warrant a post. So I decided to try a couple of new cookies this weekend! I keep a list of recipes I find and want to bake but will inevitably forget about 5 seconds after I close the webpage,magazine etc. 😛  A long time ago I saw these cookies that looked like lace and were paper thin and also curved into little scoops, for lack of a better term. They were so cute I had to make them. 6 years later.

Tuiles are from the french word for tile, referring to their being shaped as the french roof tiles often seen in the countryside.

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I picture them being a cookie for Ladies who Lunch, with fancy hats and dainty tea cups in drawings rooms of unpronounceable country estates. 😀 I am none of those things, but I wanted these cookies!

They turned out quite well, once I stopped trying to tweak this or that.  I burned quite a few, but realistically, the amount of batter this recipe makes and the amount used for each cookie is a remarkable ratio! I have tons of cookies and it doesn’t look I put a dent in the batter. This is a good and a bad thing, as I will now be baking these darn things all week! ha! I’m going to try and freeze some of the batter as well.

Tuiles

1/3 cup orange juice, preferable fresh
zest of one large orange
1/4 cup orange liqueur (I used Cointreau) 
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
7 Tbsp melted butter
2 cup finely sliced almonds
1 cup sifted, all purpose flour

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, stir well.  Let sit for 10-15 mins.

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Complicated, eh? It gets better…

Butter your baking tray using some extra melted butter brushed on with a pastry brush. Or use silicon mats like I did but DO NOT butter them! haha.

Using about a teaspoon of batter at a time place 4 cookies per sheet – leave lots of room between them. They will spread to be at least 3″ in diameter, and not always evenly. 

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Using a moist fork, spread the batter into a circle. The batter should only be about as thick as the almonds.

Bake in a 350°F oven with the rack in the middle for 7 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through.

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I buttered the first of two baking sheets. The silicon mat made it wholly unnecessary. They turned out ok, albeit kidney shaped.

I thought the first ones were not quite done enough since they weren’t as golden as I expected, but they were some of the best .  I played with the time, up to 8 minutes and then back to 7. They burn quite easily. They also burned faster when I forgot to rotate them.

When you pull them out, don’t get distracted while they’re cooling. Hover over them for about 30 seconds and when they’re ready to move without falling apart move them quickly but gently to a nearby rolling pin or wine bottle and let them cool. 

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Although, if you forget them and they get too cool, they’re still very pretty while flat. I’ve heard you can return them to the oven briefly to regain their flexibility, but I didn’t try this.

Apparently the way to tell if they’re thin enough is to drop one on the floor and hope it shatters into small pieces. If not, spread the batter thinner. Mine shattered quite nicely!

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They lose some of their crispness over night so they are best served the day they are made. Today (Monday) they were still fairly crispy but the middles were chewier.  I’m going to try to recrispify some tomorrow with a dry piece of bread.

Cupcake Flowers

I went to visit my friend Carla last Thursday to see her adorable little son.  He was born all the way back in May on the day I left for Italy.  Somehow I never managed to get to see him until now. So sad!

What a munchkin he is. Round little head, big bright eyes! Oh, so adorable.  Somehow, I didn’t manage to take any pictures of the kiddo. I got plenty of the cupcake cake we made, however!!

After a very tasty Indian dinner we set upon decorating the chocolate cupcakes she made before I got there.

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I have to say, I was pretty pleased with the result, even tho I had never made anything like it before.  Cakes really aren’t my thing, but I do like icing things.  The yellow icing was softer than I would have liked, but it turned out pretty cute anyways!

Gluten free sugar cookies: test batch #1


Back in August a friend sent me a blog post about a Star Trek themed improv comedy show in Toronto. I take my Star Trek pretty seriously.  I forwarded it on to a friend of mine and she grabbed tickets and we went. It was kind of a no-brainer.

It was pretty funny and we went again, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to become regulars. I can certainly spare one night a month to drink Romulan Ale and answer Star Trek quiz questions! 😀

Somehow I volunteered myself to make Movember cookies for their non Star Trek themed Movember show.  So, once again this November I will be knee deep in mustache cookies between this and my office!  This offering of cookies was met with a gluten free clause and a deal was (well, sorta) struck! (Really I just said I would instagram them some pictures of my cookies!)

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Thankfully for me, October comes before November and I have an entire month to perfect a gluten free sugar cookie. And, oh, what a month indeed!  I have new, adorable zombie cookie cutters to test out… well, I’m pretty sure the cookie cutters will work, lol, the challenge rests with my ability to decorate it in a sufficiently descriptive manner. I also have Star Trek cookie cutters, a birthday present from my favourite lady.

zmobies!!!

Star Trek

I’m currently in the middle of a batch of my first gluten free cookies. And I’m feeling discouraged.

When I say middle, I mean the ‘put it in the fridge’ part of any sugar cookie recipe. I’m not optimistic about the results when I take it out, however. I’m afraid it will be like that time I accidentally doubled the butter and had a gooey mess and a few blobtastic cookies (pictured below).

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My dough is way too soft. I had this happened with gluten free pizza crust, in that it was sort of a paste that I had to almost spread onto the pizza stone, but it turned out great when baked. However, this doesn’t work so well in the world of sugar cookies. Particularly cookies that want to be shaped like the Enterprise.

*time lapse* 45 minutes later and the dough is still squishy. I’m going to try the freezer soon. 😛

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*time lapse* Took some of it out of fridge after just over an hour. The dough seemed firm, but it all but melted after barely 10 minutes on the table. I got 4 cookies before critical failure set in and I put the goo back in the cold.

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Thats it for me tonight.  I’ll deal with the rest on Friday. Maybe after 48 hours in the fridge it will be more agreeable? Probably not.

I think the failure here is not enough flour. The whole flour mix should be put in to the recipe, not just 2 1/4 cups. Oooo… I’m going to go mix in the rest of the flour mix to my softened dough.

Here’s the recipe – someone else might have more luck.

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1 cup sugar (I used brown)
1 cup butter, softened
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour mix
1l4 tsp salt

*Flour Mix is 2 cups rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour, 1 tsp xanthan gum. Whisk together and use what’s needed in the recipe, store the rest.

On medium speed, beat the sugar and butter together in a large bowl until creamy.  Add the eggs and vanilla. Continue beating.  Add flour blend and salt, and beat on low until well mixed.

Cover and refrigerate 1 hour, or until firm. (I’m currently taking this step very seriously!) 

The recipe doesn’t specify making discs and putting it in plastic wrap or any of that… it would be way too gooey anyways.

Roll out dough to 1/4″ thickness on floured surface.  Cut out desired shapes and bake at 350°F for 8-12 minutes.

***UPDATE***

I decided to go to the bar on Friday after work instead of going home and rolling out these cookies, so the dough stayed in the fridge until Sunday.

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It was much firmer and ready to be rolled out, but after rolling, the leftovers had to go back into the fridge again for a while… I think about 2 hours.  I made an Apple Crisp in between.

They were very soft even after baking and a few of my Enterprises performed impromptu saucer separations. 😦
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I’m also not sure about the flavour… At first it is mostly standard sugar cookie goodness, but there is a strange bitterness at the end and it leaves a funny aftertaste in the mouth.  All in all, I’m not thrilled with this recipe. So, on to the next one!

*UPDATED UPDATE*

After eating these cookies and testing them out on a few people, I rescind all prior complaints about them. So long as they are just lightly browned they do taste great!  They’re very soft and buttery but mild in flavour and they melt in the mouth. Very tasty dipped in coffee too! 🙂