Monday, October 19, 2015

Almond Lovers Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was wanting to make a batch of cookies to send to my girls.  They would probably like for me to stick to a regular recipe of Chocolate Chip Cookies but.... they are used to me being creative.  I was thinking about different flavors that I love and I decided to try almond and chocolate.  I was going to just switch the vanilla extract for almond extract and add toasted almond.... and then I saw this recipe on Picky Palate.  You should definitely visit the Picky Palate - she just posted a recipe for Oatmeal Walnut Banana Caramel Pancakes that looks "to die for".

I love almond.  If you haven't made these Almond Bars yet, you definitely need to try them. These Almond Lovers Chocolate Chip Cookies are just as yummy.  I love how they look, I love the texture and I LOVE how they taste!  You should look for almond paste in the baking aisle of the grocery store on your next shopping trip.

Almond Lover's Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Picky Palate)

2 sticks softened butter
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
3/4 Cup brown sugar
3 oz  Pure Almond Paste (comes in a five or six oz pkg)
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 oz bag chocolate chips
3/4 Cup chopped almonds (I toasted mine)
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until well combined, light and fluffy.  Add the almond paste in pieces until well combined.  Add in eggs and vanilla until well combined.
2.  In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with the chocolate chips.  Mix until just combined.  Scoop onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet with a medium cookie scoop.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just golden crisp on the outside.  Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
about 3 dozen cookies

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Williams-Sonoma Chocolate Pudding Pie

I love this pie! As most of you know, I am a preschool director.  We have a monthly birthday lunch where we all eat way yummy food and we eat way too much.  Susan is one of my four year old teachers. She made this yummy pie last month for Julie's birthday.  I LOVED it.  Some of the teachers thought it was really rich - not me!  I could have eaten half the pie but I did limit myself to a few bites.  I made it a few weeks ago when my girls were home from college.  They loved it too. This would be a great pie for your next family gathering or holiday!

Please visit the Williams-Sonoma website  - their pie is way prettier than mine!

Williams-Sonoma Chocolate Pudding Pie

For the Cookie Crumb Crust:

1 1/4 cups cookie crumbs, graham crackers, chocolate wafers or ginger snaps (I used Oreo crumbs)
5 Tbsp.  unsalted butter (I used salted - it is what I had)
3 Tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  In a bowl, combine crumbs, butter and sugar.  Stir until crumbs are well moistened.  Pat the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom and all the up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan or dish.  Bake until the crust is firm - about 5 minutes.  I like a crunchy crust.  For a firmer crust, bake 5 minutes more.

For the Filling:

2 1/2 cups milk
5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into slivers
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a heavy non-aluminum saucepan over low heat, warm together the milk and the chocolate, whisking until the chocolate is melted; the mixture will be speckled.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.  Add the cornstarch and salt, then vanilla - whisk until well blended.  Slowly pour the warm chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly until well blended.  Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it thickens and begins to bubble slowly, at least 6 - 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir until smooth, about 1 minute.

Pour the filling into the crumb crust and smooth with a spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface, and refrigerate until completely cold and firm, 2 - 3 hours.

For the Topping:

1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat together the cream, sugar and vanilla until a stiff peak forms.  Spread the whipped cream on top of the pie.  *Decorate with chocolate curls. Refrigerate until ready to serve, but let the pie stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving to take the chill off.

*To make decorative chocolate curls, wrap a medium-size chunk of semi-sweet chocolate in plastic wrap.  Rub the wrapped chocolate between your hands for 1 -2 minutes to warm it; the chocolate should not melt.  For large chunks, microwave on low 5 seconds.  Unwrap the chocolate and, using a vegetable peeler, slowly and evenly scrape the edge of the chunk until curls form.  If the chocolate is cold, the peeler will make ragged shavings rather than curls.

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