Saturday, July 21, 2018

Puffy Cheese Crackers (gluten free, but not necessarily)


Delicious Puffy Cheese Cracker
I found this recipe from Chef In Training via Pinterest. Not that I need another cheese cracker recipe in my life, but I have been craving Cheeze Crackers ala Marilyn. Cheapskate me, though, didn't want to spend the $2.99 on a jar of Kraft Old English processed cheese
This recipe is great because it's basically my mom's cheese cracker recipe, but with real cheddar cheese, which costs about $2.50 less than the jar of Old English. Score.
I made these gluten free because I am still attempting to limit my gluten. With all of the butter and cheese, though, you can't really tell the flour is not made with wheat.
These tasty little treats are salty, cheesy, warm, and absolutely satisfying. The dough freezes perfectly for baking up just a few at a time, or if you just want to plan ahead.
 
Puffy Cheese Crackers
    --Adapted from Chef In Training

Ingredients:
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Get out your food processor and put in the grater attachment. Grate the cheese and the butter.
  • Transfer the grated cheese and butter to a medium mixing bowl and then replace the grater attachment in your food processor to the blade attachment.
  • Add the grated butter and cheese back into the food processor (fitted with the blade now). Mix until the butter and cheese are completely incorporated.
  • Add the flour and salt. Mix until a dough forms and creates a cohesive ball (or other solid shape--mine looked like a fat sausage).
  • Transfer dough to the bowl you used for the butter and cheese earlier.
  • Scoop about two teaspoons of dough out and roll into a ball. Place ball on prepared baking sheet and gently press on the top, just enough so that the ball won't roll off the pan.
  • Place additional balls onto the pan, leaving about 1 1/2 to 2 inches between balls of dough.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for about 9-10 minutes, or until puffed and possibly browning on the edges just slightly.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for 3-5 minutes. Remove to a serving plate and enjoy, taking care not to burn yourself.
  • Continue to roll and bake the remaining dough.
* If you would like to freeze some to bake off later, line with wax paper a small pan that will fit into your freezer. Form the balls and press to keep from rolling. Freeze formed balls until firm and then transfer to a zip top freezer bag. When ready to bake, put the dough balls on the pan while the oven preheats, and bake as directed above.
  • Makes about 1 1/2 to 3 dozen puffy cheese crackers

Cheese and butter all mixed (well, mostly)
The completed dough
Dough balls formed for freezing -- each is about 1 1/2 cm in diameter.
Ready to go into the oven
Baked, puffed, and done






Thursday, July 19, 2018

Brownie Cookies (Gluten Free--but they don't have to be)

Brownie Cookies
Summer break means I have tons of time on my hands, and although I've been trying to bake (and eat) fewer breads and cookies, today I had to make these after seeing them on Instagram. Smittenkitchen.com calls them the Browniest Cookies. What they remind me of sort of are Grandma's Chocolate Brownie Cookies --you know, the big ones in the red package. 
These aren't as sweet as Grandma's, but that could probably be remedied by changing the 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate to dark chocolate, which I may try next time. 
Suffice it to say, though, these are what they are called: the browniest cookies. Very chocolately. Very satisfying. Just make sure you have enough milk on hand to drink alongside these guys.
Also, I used gluten free flour because I'm attempting to reduce the gluten in my diet, but the original recipe just calls for the same amount of regular all purpose flour. I use Better Batter because it's what works for me. I think this recipe could handle any cup-for-cup gf flour you might like to use.


Brownie Cookies
     --adapted from Smittenkitchen.com

Ingredients:
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped/broken into pieces
  • 1 stick butter (cut into tablespoon chunks)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup Better Batter Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (or other AP flour)
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans (optional)
Instructions:
  • In a microwave safe bowl, melt unsweetened chocolate and butter on 50% power for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat microwaving at 50% power at 20-30 second intervals until the chocolate is almost melted completely. Continue stirring to completely melt and combine chocolate and butter. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the chocolate butter mixture and the brown and white sugars.
  • Whisk in the eggs one at a time until completely incorporated. 
  • Stir in vanilla.
  • Stir in baking soda and salt. 
  • Add the cocoa powder and flour, putting it through a sieve/sifter if either is lumpy. Stir to incorporate cocoa and flour.
  • Stir in chocolate chips (and nuts if you want them within the cookies).
  • Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes.

At this point you can preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit OR you can get ready to form the dough into a log to freeze, and bake later.

Bake now: 
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Scoop about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of dough onto lines cookie sheet leaving 1 1/2 inches or so between cookies. These don't spread much. 
  • If you want nuts, but did not stir them in, you can roll prepared mounds of dough in the nuts and return to the baking sheet.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes. Be careful not to over bake these. They're better if they're slightly under baked.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet before removing with a spatula to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Bake later: 
  • Tear off a sheet of parchment paper that will accommodate making a dough log.
  • Scoop out the chilled dough onto the sheet, and with clean or food-gloved hands, form the dough into a rough log.
  • When you have a rough log, fold over the parchment and use the edge of a cookie sheet to sort of push and squeeze the dough into a smoother log shape. (If you can't imagine what I'm talking about, watch this short video about shaping compound butter.)
  • The log should end up about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inches in diameter. 
  • Place the dough in the freezer until it's frozen solid.
  • When frozen, you can cut the log so that the dough fits well into a zip top freezer bag.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, line a cookie sheet with parchment, and cut 1/2 inch thick circles from the frozen log. 
  • Place dough circles onto the baking sheet (and press into chopped nuts if you want those on top--but you may need to wait a few minutes for the dough to soften slightly if you're doing this).
  • Bake cookies at 350 for 8-9 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet before removing with a spatula to a cooling rack to cool completely.

 
Frozen and cut cookie dough
Dough rolled and ready to be wrapped and frozen
This cookie was formed with a scoop. Just wanted you to see the inside.
These cookies were formed with a scoop.

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