Monday, January 28, 2013

Martha Monday: Chocolate Waffle Cookies

For this Martha Monday, please welcome back our latest guest blogger--my mom! You may remember her from such hits as Apple Pie Rugelach and Cardamom Cranberry Pear Crisp. This week she brings you the perfect recipe to finally utilize that waffle maker that's been hiding in the back of your pantry and sate the sweet tooth that's secretly been missing all of the readily-accessible holiday cookies from last month. You know it's true :) Enjoy!

Oh Martha, Martha, Martha! How you entice us to bake with your glossy photos of perfect pastries and cookies. The picture in Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies 2005 showed perfectly round Chocolate Waffle cookies. This recipe attracted me because I would get to use the waffle iron that generally just takes up space on a shelf. (A gift requested by Mr. Nelson who must have had visions of me making waffles every Sunday morning). I diligently gathered my ingredients and followed the recipe meticulously only to face the cruel reality that baking once a year will not yield the same lovely result.

One thing I hadn't considered was that waffle iron grids can be different sizes, and mine are much larger than those in the picture. Also, my batter was pretty thick and I had to scrape each scoop of batter onto the waffle iron. These cookies did not turn into perfectly round circles, and some were more amoeba-like in appearance. The directions would have you coat the grids with cooking spray each time, but mine is Teflon coated and the the cookies were easy to remove and cooked according to the directions.

When dipping the tops in chocolate they're easy to drop. While the result is a tasty accident, if it happens too often you won't have enough chocolate for all the cookies! I console myself with the thought that taste is more important than appearance and these fluffy, chocolately cookies with their touch of cinnamon are yummy and "a keeper" according to my sister. The only thing that could have improved them would have been to make them with Hilary.

Chocolate Waffle Cookies
     From Martha Stewart
     Makes about 4 dozen

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
18 Tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose flour
Vegetable cooking spray
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 Tablespoons whole milk

1. Melt chocolate with 1 cup butter (2 sticks) in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let cool slightly.

2. Put eggs, vanilla, and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale, 4-5 minutes. Mix in chocolate mixture, salt, cinnamon, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, and the flour.

3. Heat a waffle iron until hot. Lightly coat grids with cooking spray. Spoon about 1 Tablespoon of batter onto center of each waffle-iron square to make 1 1/2-inch rounds. Close cover, cook until set, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, bottom sides up. Let cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter, coating grids with cooking spray after each batch.

4. Melt remaining 2 Tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add confectioners' sugar and remaining 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder; stir until smooth. Stir in milk.

5. Gently dip surface of each cookie in icing so that just the waffle lines (not the gaps) are coated.  Repeat with remaining cookies and icing. transfer to wire racks; let stand until set, about 10 minutes. Dust iced surfaces of cookies with confectioners' sugar. Cookies can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature for 2 days. (I froze mine and they were fine).

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Rosemary Bread

Please welcome my friend Kate of Department of Plate as our latest guest blogger with her awesome and awesomely easy Rosemary Bread!

I stumbled across an easy bread baking recipe (in my opinion a gem in and of itself) but was truly drawn to try to attempt it rather than leave it in the large and ever growing stack of recipes in a magazine holder in my kitchen never to be made. This recipe made me a recall a particularly unglamorous time in this impassioned foodie's life: immediately post-college when meal plans and disposable income were both nonexistent.

Working during the day for a government contracting company and at night at the omnipresent and less than authentic Macaroni Grill Restaurant, it was in the latter that not only developed a soft spot for Rosemary Bread, but where for several months I may have subsisted upon it alone. This is an example of the little heard of "all carb diet"intended mostly for drought-ridden Horn of Africans, poorly compensated post-graduates, and other famine-ravished peoples of the world. On nights that a line cook wouldn't "accidentally" mis-make an order and box it for me to go instead of toss it in the trash (per company policy) I'd eat this bread for dinner. Oddly, this staple did not lose favor with me despite the unbelievable quantities I consumed.

So, when I found this recipe that claimed to be comparable to the one in my memory I had to give it a try. To my delight, it's true to its description: easy to make, and similar to Macaroni Grill. Each time I make it (fairly frequently) I smile to myself and think of scarfing bread during my shift in the hidden corner near the steamy dishwashing area and trashcans. An odd memory to consider fond no doubt, but somehow it is.

Rosemary Bread
    from The Food Network
     makes 4 loaves

1 1/4 oz. package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and serving
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I usually substitute whole wheat flour), plus more for dusting
2 Tablespoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

1. Stir the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer). Let sit until foamy, about 15 minutes.

2. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil, the flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the rosemary, fine salt, and 3/4 cup warm water. Stir with a wooden spoon (or with the dough hook if using a stand mixer) until a dough forms.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting lightly with flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes (or knead dough with a dough hook on med-high speed, adding a little flour if the dough sticks to the bowl, about 8 minutes).

4. Brush a large bowl with olive oil. Add the dough; cover with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature until more than doubled, about 2 hours.

5. Brush two baking sheets with olive oil. Generously flour a work surface; turn the rough out onto the flour and divide into 4 equal pieces.. Working with one piece at a time, sprinkle some flour on the dough, then fold the top and bottom an bottom of the dough into the middle. Fold in the sides to make a free-form square. Use a spatula to turn the dough over, tuck the corners under to form a ball. Place seam-side down on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, placing 2 balls on ear baking sheet.. Let stand uncovered until more than doubled, about 2 hours.

6. Preheat the over to 400 degrees. Bake the loaves for 10 minutes; brush with the remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with the kosher salt and remaining 1/2 Tablespoon rosemary. Continue baking until golden brown, about 10 more minutes. Transfer loaves to a rack to cool. Serve with olive oil seasoned with pepper.