Monthly Archives: March 2012

Bake Sale – Chocolate & Vanilla Cupcakes

How do you raise $1,151 in 2 hours?  Sell cupcakes to middle school children!  You don’t believe me?  You should have been in the cafeteria selling the baked goods then!

I organized a staff bake sale to benefit Pennies for Patients, the charity our school raises money for each spring.  I wanted the children to see how the adults of the building could come together, donate baked goods, and raise money for the charity.

In all, over 40 staff members donated goods to the cause!  I was so proud and honored by how many staff members baked and brought in goodies!  We really came together to raise a lot of money!

I made 56 cupcakes of four varieties and it was not as much work as it sounds!  I made one batch of the chocolate cupcakes and 1 + 1/2 a batch of vanilla cupcakes.  Then I made one batch of vanilla frosting, dyed it yellow, and one batch of the chocolate frosting.  I pipped with a large round tip and added sprinkles.  The break down includes: 14 chocolate cake w/ chocolate frosting, 14 chocolate cake w/ vanilla frosting, 14 vanilla cake w/ vanilla frosting, and 14 vanilla cake w/ vanilla frosting.

None of these recipes are new save the chocolate frosting.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Vanilla Frosting

Chocolate Frosting
adapted from the inside of the Baker’s Chocolate box
Yield – enough to generously frost 28 cupcakes
 
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 lbs powdered sugar
2 sticks butter
4 ounces cream cheese
4 teaspoons vanilla
~ 2/3 cup milk
  1. Melt and cool the chocolate using the microwave.  Heat in 20 second bursts, stirring in between.
  2. Beat together the butter and cream cheese, slowly add the powdered sugar.
  3. Add in the vanilla and the melted chocolate, beating to combine.
  4. Add enough milk to get the frosting to a pipping consistency

(And yes, I made a huge mess with all the sprinkles!)

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Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles were one of the first cookies I felt confident making and calling one of my “signature” recipes.  My friend and college roommate Lynn, as seen from the chestnut episode, claims them as one her favorites!  Since Lynn is finishing up her last semester of grad school, which is terribly stressful and exhausting, I was in her shoes this time last year, I thought I would send her a sweet treat to make life a little better!  She also has a friend in town for the weekend, so I knew they would get eaten!  Since a girl cannot live on snickerdoodles alone, I sent her some chocolate chip dough balls, why not!

Snickerdoodles are so sweet and cinnamony and soft and delicious!  They are simple to make and I always have the ingredients on hand.  Because there is not butter that needs to be softened, these are quick to whip up whenever you are in a last minute baking mode.  And, the non-chocolate lovers in your life need cookies too.

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Snickerdoodle Cookies
Adapted from Cooks.com
Yields – 25-28 small cookies

1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon + 3 teaspoons

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Beat together the shortening and 3/4 cup sugar until well combined.  Add in the egg and vanilla, beat again.
  3. Add in the flour, cream of tarter, salt, & 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Mix until just combined.
  4. Mix together the remaining sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  5. Scoop 1 tablespoon balls of dough and roll in the cinnamon-sugar.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart and flatten the tops.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes or until they lightly brown.
  7. Cool on a cooling rack.

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Bellini Cupcakes

I have thought about making champagne cupcakes for awhile now.  Something about the bubbliness and freshness sounded rather appealing.  My first inclination was to make a mimosa cupcake with orange curd, and who knows, maybe I’ll make them someday, but the idea of peach, for a Bellini cupcake just sounded wonderful!  I love Bellinis!  Nothing says decadent brunch like a good Bellini, I’ll take one any day over a mimosa.  Let’s be serious for a moment, I love champagne or sparkling wine or Prosecco or Cava,  I’m not really that choosy and I’ll take what I can get!

These cupcakes were made for our new I.A. Principal.  This was not an attempt at brown nosing, I really just wanted to do something nice for a woman who does many nice things for me.  She is extremely supportive in my teaching career and my baking.  In addition to a lovely gift, these cupcakes would be phenomenal for any kind of shower.  They are perfectly elegant and sweet, as well as delicious!

The cupcake is dense in texture, but light in flavor with just a hint of champagne.  The peach butter inside (I cheated and used store bought) is really sweet but is balanced with the not-so-sweet cupcake and adds nice moisture to the inside of the cupcake.  The Bellini Swiss Meringue butter cream is amazing, but Swiss meringue butter cream is the most terrific and wonderful frosting EVER!  Overall, a delicious sweet and refreshing treat!

A quick note about the flowers – they are made with gum paste that has been tinted with a little neon colored fondant.  The gum paste is “edible,” but I wouldn’t eat it and I am willing to eat most questionably edible products.  I don’t want to talk about how to make the flowers because they require a lot of special, little accessories.  I learned how to make them in the second Wilton cake decorating course.

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Bellini Cupcakes
Inspired by Sing for your Supper
Yield – 16 cupcakes

Champagne Cupcakes
Adapted from The Boozy Baker by Lucy Baker, page 38

1 1/4 cup AP flour
1 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup champagne (I used Prosecco)
5 egg whites

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy.  Meanwhile sift together the flours, powder, and salt.
  3. In alternating pours, add the flour mixture in 3 batches and the champagne in 2 batches.
  4. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  5. Scoop about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the batter and mix to lighten the batter.  Fold in 1/3 more and then finally fold in the last 1/3.  Be gentle with your folding.
  6. Using a standard ice cream scoop, scoop into lined cupcake tins.
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a tooth picked inserted comes out clean.
  8. Cool completely on a cooling rack.

Bellini Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, page 304

5 large egg whites
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
5 tablespoons champagne (I used Prosecco)
2 tablespoons peach schnapps

  1. Place the bowl of your stand mixer over a small pot filled with a little water to use as a double boiler.  Add the egg whites, sugar, and salt to the bowl.
  2. Heat and whisk the mixture until it is frothy and there is no grittiness between your fingers when you feel the mixture.
  3. Move the bowl to the mixer and beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form and the bowl in completely cool to the touch.
  4. With the mixer running, add in the butter one tablespoon at time.  The mixture may separate, but just keep beating and scrap down the bowl every now and again.
  5. Slowly add the champagne and schnapps and beat until everything is well combined and fluffy again.
  6. Add the frosting to a pipping bag with a large star tip.

Assembly
gum paste pansies
peach butter – find it here

  1. Add the peach butter to a pipping bag with a Wilton 230 tip for filling cupcakes.  Push the tip to the bottom, pull up a little, squeeze in filling, and then stop.
  2. Using large star tip, pipe the Swiss meringue butter cream from the center and go around.
  3. Strategically place the gum paste flower to cover the end of the frosting line.
  4. You can eat the gum paste, but I wouldn’t.

 

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Chocolate Chip Dough Balls

Dough balls are quite possibly the easiest thing I have baked!  I do not exaggerate when I say the hardest part about making dough balls is not giggling like a sixth grader when you say the name.  And sixth graders do giggle whenever you say the word “balls,” trust me I know, I teach them.  I even make the point when I am about to says balls to get extra serious and pull the whole “I-don’t-know-why-you’re-laughing,-we’re-scientists,-let’s-act-like scientists” routine.  I love it!

Seriously though, make some dough balls!  Irene first introduced me to them as a MUST TRY!  They taste like cookie dough, but they are baked, so it’s not controversial. Besides the doughy interior, I love the saltiness of the dough balls.  Think of these as an updated cookie for adults.

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Chocolate Chip Dough Balls
Adapted from My Life as a Mrs.
Yield – 40-44 dough balls

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 bag (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line to baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs and the vanilla.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients and add slowly to the butter mixture.  Do not over mix.
  4. Add in the chocolate chips and stir by hand.
  5. Using a 1 1/2-2 tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop balls of doughs onto the parchment paper.  You can place these rather close because they do not spread.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes or until their tops are no longer doughy.  Do NOT over bake, these are meant to be soft inside.
  7. Cool on a cooling rack.

 

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Oreo Truffles – Bling, bling

 

Oreo truffles are barely a recipe and require zero cooking skill.  They are delicious, sweet, and adorable.  They can be dressed up or dressed down depending on the occasion. What always surprises me is how much people loves these.  I bake to impress and challenge myself, but what impresses me doesn’t always impress others.  Most people like the simplest desserts the best, while I love the ones with 12 steps and are daringly decadent!

These Oreo Truffles were an order request for a co-worker who wanted something for a bridal shower with the colors white & silver, and a theme of “bling.”  I hope these little guys lived up to the theme!

Oreo Truffles

Seen many places around the blog-o-sphere!

Yield – 40-48

1 package Oreos

8 ounces cream cheese (I always use 1/3 fat – I like to keep things healthy…)

1 pound candy melts

sprinkles or other decorations of your choice

  1. Crush Oreos to a fine crumb.  The easiest way is in a food processor.  I only have a mini one, so I can fit 7 Oreos in at once and I pulse until everything is nice and small.  You should not see any distinctive white bits.
  2. Smoosh (spell check doesn’t like that word, but I don’t know how else to describe the process) the cream cheese into the Oreo crumbs.  Just keep smooshing until it is all combined and looks like a stiff dough.
  3. Using a one tablespoon scoop, scoop the Oreo dough onto parchment paper.
  4. Roll each scoop into a round shape – I have poor rolling skills, hopefully your truffles will be perfectly round.
  5. Freeze the truffle until you are ready to dip.
  6. Make a double boiler by filling a small sauce pan with about an inch of water and then place a clean bowl on top of the sauce pan.  The bowl should not touch the water.  Heat the water gently, do not let it boil, keep it at a simmer.  Add the candy melts or chocolate into the bowl and stir every couple of minutes.  I have tried many ways to melt chocolate (or candy melts) and this way is by far the easiest, least messy, and most consistent.  Feel free to melt any way you like.  If the melted chocolate seems to thick, add a little shortening.  I often need to add shortening, this time I did not.
  7. I leave my bowl on the hot water while dipping.  Using toothpicks, dip each truffle into the chocolate and twist to coat.  Try and shake off any additional chocolate.  Place the truffle on parchment paper.
  8. After the first dipping hardened, I scooped extra melted candy melts into a baggie and pipped zig-zags over the top.  Quickly, I sprinkled silver sprinkles on top of the pipped candy melts.  After the candy hardened, I shook off the extra sprinkles and placed in a cute mini cupcake liner.

 

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Tiramisu Whoopie Pies

Whoopie Pies are a fun and delicious alternative to cupcakes and a little bit more special than a cookie. In all honesty, whoopie is a fun word say!  It totally reminds of the game show part of Mallrats!  Anyway, a whoopie pie is a cake-like cookie with a frosting filling.  The most traditional whoopie pie is a chocolate cake with a marshmallow cream filling.  I like the cookbook Whoopie Pies because you are provided with a bunch of whoopie recipes and then a bunch of filling recipes, there are suggestions, but it’s fun to mix and match.

I made these for a dinner party at my friend Kristin’s house.  She is a pretty sophisicated lady who has spent a lot of time in Italy.  My first thought was to make cupcakes, but I wanted to try something different.  The flavors of tiramisu came through really well in the filling and the whoopie part was moist and delicious.  I went with chocolate chips instead of a plain vanilla whoopie because I always believe tiramisu can use a little bit more chocolate.  These whoopies received rave reviews from both the dinner party guests and my co-workers who were able to sample leftovers at work on Saturday!

Using a small cookie scoop is the ideal way to portion out the whoopies.  It helps them to stay nice and round and evenly sized.  Usually I use a pipping bag for the filling, but I just wasn’t feeling it.  I wanted to dip the edges cocoa powder to look like the top of a traditional tiramisu, but then I wanted more chocolate chips, so I did a little of both!

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Tiramisu Whoopie Pies
Adapted from Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley & Amy Treadwell, page 50 & 98
Yield – 20 whoopie pies

Whoopie
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons shortening
1/2 sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (just use a scant half a cup with a teaspoon of lemon juice)
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips

  1. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Sift together the flour, powder, and salt onto parchment paper.
  3. Beat together the butter, shortening, and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs and buttermilk and beat together.
  4. Mix the milk, soda, and vinegar together and then add to the batter. Add in the vanilla and beat for 2 minutes on medium so that everything is well combined.
  5. Use a rubber spatula to mix in the mini chocolate chips.
  6. Use a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop to portion the batter on the baking sheets.  I was able to fit 10-12 whoppies per baking sheet.  Leave space for the whoopies to spread slightly. (please ignore the creepy hand shadows)
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown.
  8. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Cream filling & assembly
4 cups powdered sugar
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon strong coffee
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon rum
Cocoa powder and chocolate chips for dipping

  1. Beat the butter and mascorpone cheese together in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and beat on low speed until combined and then turn the mixer on high.
  2. Slowly add the vanilla, coffee, and rum, mix until light and fluffy.
  3. Match the cooled whoopies with a friend that is most similar in size.
  4. Spread about 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of filling on one half. Push the filling to the edge.
  5. Put the whoopies together and then dip & roll in mini chocolate chips of cocoa powder.

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St. Patrick’s Day

The St. Patrick’s Day Season is a wonderful time of the year!  There is nothing like a warm drink or a cold beer to get you out of the winter blues and into March Madness, Spring Break, and finally it is summer again.  Here are a few recipes to get you into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit!

Irish Car Bomb Brownies

Green Velvet Mini Cupcakes

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Mini Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Whiskey Brownie bites with Bailey’s Cream Cheese Frosting

And here is one little extra recipe!  I used the extra whiskey-brownie mix from the car bomb brownies and pipped it into 12 mini cupcake liners.  The brownie mix filled the liner about half way.  I baked the brownie bites for 12-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted came out clean.  I mixed some extra cream cheese frosting with a tablespoon of Baileys and pipped on the cool brownies.  These were pretty delicious for just using up some extra batter and frosting!  When life gives you extras, make something delicious, don’t waste it!

(so many different type of alcohol!)

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Green Velvet Mini Cupcakes

It’s St. Patrick’s Day!  Or at least it will be soon!  I made these little guys for a St. Patrick’s Day Parade lunch along with Irish Car Bomb Brownies.  I don’t know if I should let you on a a little secret, but red  velvet cupcakes are only red because of the red food coloring. Yes, the little but of cocoa gives the cupcakes a slightly reddish hue, but not the red associated with red velvet.  This being said, you can create almost any color “velvet” cupcakes or cake you want!  I’ve made pink and green so far.

These little guys are cute and delicious, moist and tender, sweet and creamy.  Make mini green (or red) velvet cupcakes and you make lots of friends!

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Green Velvet Mini Cupcakes
Yield – 24 mini cupcakes
Adapted from my Red Velvet Cupcakes

3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons cake flour
2 1/4 teaspoons Dutch-processed cocoa, unsweetened
3/8 tea. salt
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 egg, room temperature
squirt of green gel food coloring paste (I use Americolor Leaf Green)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon white vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa, and salt onto wax paper.
  3. In a mixer with a paddle attachment beat together the oil and sugar.  Add in the egg and beat well.  Add the vanilla and food coloring and mix on medium until everything is well combined.
  4. Beat in the flour in 3 three batches on low speed alternating with two batches of buttermilk.
  5. Beat everything on high speed for 5 seconds to combine well.
  6. In a small measuring cup mix the soda and vinegar together and then add to the batter mixing well.
  7. Using a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, add batter to lined mini cupcake pans. 
  8. Bake for 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of a center cupcake cleanly.
  9. Be careful of baking times, every oven is different and you do not want to over-bake these little guys.  Immediately place on a wire rack to cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tea. vanilla
Green sprinkles

  1. In a mixer with a paddle attachment beat the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy.
  2. Add in the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time until well combined and then beat in the vanilla.
  3. Scoop the frosting into a pipping bag and pipe onto each cupcake with a large, round tip.
  4. Sprinkle with green sprinkles if desired.

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Irish Car Bomb Bronwies

The first Saturday in March is St. Patrick’s Day in Rockaway.  It’s always a fun day of parades, Irish food at Grandma’s, a beer tent, and live music.  These are pretty much all of my favorite things, and they happen on one awesome day!  I offered to bring the dessert and my first inclination was to make Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes, but I have made them quite a few times already.  I wanted something different and when I saw this recipe, I was instantly intrigued!

The brownie layer is super fudgy, thick, and moist.  There is just enough Guinness flavor.  I really think Guinness does wonders for textures in baked goods.  The cheesecake layer is creamy and sweet with the wonderful flavor of Baileys.  And to top it all off, there are these little shamrocks pipped on top that are dark and fudgy with a rich scent of whiskey!

Pipping the whiskey shamrocks were a little tricky!  I poured the mix into a pipping bag and snipped the end.  Next time I would probably use a tip to have better control of the batter.  As you can see from the picture, my shamrocks are all unique individuals!

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Irish Car Bomb Brownies
Yield 24-30
Adapted from – Endless Simmer

Brownie Layer
2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa – Hershey’s Special Dark
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup Guinness
4 tablespoons whiskey

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Place foil in a 9×13” pan so there is enough foil hanging over the edge to act as handles to pull out the brownies.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale yellow in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Add in the eggs and vanilla, beat to combine.
  3. Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda, and salt.  Add half of dry ingredients into the mixer and mix on low.  Add in 1/4 cup of Guinness.
  4. Remove the bowl from the mixer and mix the rest of the dry ingredients and Guinness by hand.
  5. Remove one cup of batter and add in the whiskey, pour into a pipping bag and place in the fridge.
  6. Pour the rest of the batter into the prepared pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Bake for 25 minutes until the brownie is set.  Let cool on a wire rack.


Cream Cheese Layer + Assembly
12 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 egg
1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

  1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and beat until combined.
  2. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the cooled brownie base.
  3. Pipe shamrocks about 1/2 inch apart.
  4. Bake 25-30 or until the cheesecake topping is set.
  5. Cool on a wire rack, use the foil to lift the brownies out of the pan, and then cut according to the shamrocks.


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Fudge Stripe Cookies

I love fudge stripe cookies!  They are so addicting and wonderful when dipped in milk.  For the past month I have been planning on making these cookies, but there has always been something else that needed to be baked first!  The last weekend of mid-winter break seemed a perfect time to whip up a batch of homemade fudge stripe cookies.  Also, since I added clarified butter to my New Foods list, these cookies are the perfect excuse to try my hand at clarifying butter!

These cookies were not difficult to make and they have the familiar crunch and chocolaty-ness of the store bought brand.  However, the freshness of these cookies and the deliciousness of dark chocolate is awesome!  These were relatively easy with only a few ingredients and are quite tasty.  The yield on the original recipe was 25, I made 9, weird.  You could easily double the recipe to make more, that’s what I’ll do next time.

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Fudge Stripe Cookies
Yield – 9 cookies
Adapted from Brave Tart

3 3/4 ounces flour, sifted + more for dusting
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 ounces corn syrup, by weight
1 1/2 ounces clarified butter*, by weight (1 stick unsalted butter)
1/2 ounce vanilla
7 ounces chocolate, I used 60% bittersweet

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Add the flour, soda, corn syrup, clarified butter, and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
  • Beat on medium speed until well combine, about 30 seconds.  Place dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest a few minutes.
  • Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 1/4″ thickness. Cut into circles with a 2 1/2″ round cutter.  Cut out the middle with your smallest round cutter.
  • Dock each cookie with a fork several times to make indents.
  • Use an offset spatula to transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until they just begin to brown.
  • Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack.
  • Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  Drop one cookie at a time into the melted chocolate.  Lift out carefully (I used my fingers) and blow into the middle to remove the chocolate film.  Place on a clean piece of parchment.
  • When all the cookies have had their bottoms dipped, pour the remaining chocolate into a plastic bag and clip the end.  Pipe 5 stripes on each cookie.
  • Let the chocolate harden before stacking.

*Clarified Butter
Directions from David Lebovitz

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes

  • Place the butter in a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan and heat until melted.
  • Skim off the foamy bits.
  • When you remove most of the foamy bits, strain through a sieve with a cheese cloth or paper towel lining it.

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