#Recipe #ChocolateChip Day

A food lover’s calendar is choc-full (pardon the pun!) of days on which to celebrate, indulge and extol the virtues of food stuffs galore. In fact I’m pretty certain that if you research hard enough you’ll find that every single day is bequeath to some food or ingredient somewhere in the world. Not that I’m complaining! On that note, May 15th is National Chocolate Chip Day here in North American waters. And without further ado I present not one but TWO culinary efforts in homage to that humble morsel of cocoa goodness.

My “Triple Chocolate Peppermint Cookies” are chocolate, chocolate, chocolate lovers dream! Crumbly mint chocolate cookie studded with chocolate chips, enrobed in a smooth, dark chocolate case. Absolute perfection with a glass of ice-cold milk. Girl scouts eat your hearts out!

The second cookie that we have, “Choc Chip Short Oat Cookies” are a wonderful hybrid between buttery, crumbly shortbread and a classic oatmeal cookie. Easy to bake they’re also a handy one to have ready should you be looking for an afternoon activity with little hands.

Triple Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Peppermint Cookies 1

Ingredients (makes apx 50)
Chocolate Cookies:

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 cup chocolate chips, semi-sweet

Chocolate Peppermint Coating:

16oz chocolate, semi-sweet, broken into pieces

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Method:
Making the cookies:
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar until well combined (apx 10 mins) Add the vanilla extract, peppermint extract, salt, and cocoa powder. Mix until the cocoa powder is well combined and there are no pockets of cocoa dust
  • Add the flour and mix until you have crumbly dough
  • Gather the dough into a ball, and knead it together on a counter for about 3-5 mins It should become somewhat smoother. (Don’t worry if it’s still a little crumbly)
  • Divide the dough in 2, flatten into disks, and wrap in cling wrap. Chill in a refrigerator for 15-20 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment
  • Roll dough out to a thickness of 6mm. I used a rolling-pin with guides to get a consistent thickness. A trick I found that works really well is to roll the dough out between two sheets of baking parchment. Not only are the cookies easier to lift, it also saves on counter top mess and cleaning up!
  • Cut out cookies (I use a 2 “ cutter) and place, spaced apart, on the pre-lined baking sheets
  • Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the trays for 3-5 mins. Then careful remove to wire racks and allow to cool completely
  • When your cookies have cooled completely prepare your chocolate coating

Peppermint Cookies

Making the coating:
  • In a bowl set over hot water in a pan, slowly melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally
  • Add in the peppermint extract and stir to combine. It may look like it’s caused the chocolate to separate and become grainy but fear not! Keep stirring and it’ll come right in the end.
Finishing the cookies:
  • With a fork in each hand, gently drop the cookies one at a time into the chocolate coating
  • Using the forks, flip to coat all sides. Lift the cookie out of the chocolate with one of the forks and allow any excess chocolate to drip off the cookie back into the bowl
  • Place the freshly coated cookie on a parchment lined counter, and repeat
  • Allow the cookies to cool at room temperature until ready. They’ll be ready in a couple of hours but I find it best to leave them overnight. They can be stored in an airtight tin for 3-5 days. (Use baking parchment to separate the layers and prevent sticking)

Peppermint Cookies 3

*When dipping the baked cookies you’ll get to a point where it becomes too awkward to flip and properly coat the cookies in the melted chocolate. I transfer the remaining chocolate to a piping bag and drizzle it over the remaining cookies.

Peppermint Cookies 4

Choc Chip Short Oat Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients (makes apx 48)

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups cake flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup quick-cooking oats

12oz chocolate chips, semi-sweet

Method
  • Heat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment
  • In large bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and powdered sugar until light, fluffy and well combined
  • Add in the flour, baking soda, vanilla and oats., and mix until well combined
  • Stir in chocolate chips
  • On pre-lined baking sheets, drop dough by teaspoonfuls. Space them apx 2 inches apart
  • Bake in the preheated oven for between 11 to 13 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the trays for 5 mins
  • After 5 minutes carefully transfer the baked cookies to wire racks and allow to cool completely
  • Enjoy!

#Recipe Baking with kids…not literally!

Montage

We’ve now been resident here in Toronto for 5 months and things have pretty much settled. My husband has found his pace with his job, our kids have made a smooth transition to a new school, heck we even seemed to have navigated the whole “Daylight saving hours” thing without too much trouble. The only fly in the ointment is me trying to start Mr. Mom’s from scratch again. Whilst a brand new audience awaits from my take on baked goods, it also means a whole bunch of people who no NOTHING about you. And that’s an uphill climb! (If you do happen to work in the foodie sector and would like a food writer, or baker to work with  please do check out my Collaborations page here.)

Anyhoo I digress! As I mentioned above, our kids have (surprisingly) takenthe move to a new country in their stride with little or no tears and tantrums. This week had them on their “March Break” from school- seems to be the equivalent to a UK mid-term break. As well as taking them to the obligatory art galleries and museums (I don’t know who enjoyed it more!) I decided to introduce them to the world of baking. Now I’m not talking anything major- they’re not quiet ready for the cook’s torch or bain maire yet! However you’d be amazed how some simple stirring, cutting, and participation can ignite eagerness.

Here are some of the recipes that took place in Mr. Mom’s kitchen this week. Whilst they range from the sweet to the savory, they are all big on fun, flavour and involvement from little flour-caked hands. I’ve  also included some tips on getting kids involved in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong- I’m not including this because I consider myself some kind of childcare expert and these are rules by which you should abide. They’re simply meant from the point of my being a dad who wanted to get his children involved in baking and these ways worked for me. I’ve left where to get your kids involved to your discretion as you know them best after all.

Some tips/tricks:

  • Put on some music. Not loud enough that you have to shout over it but loud enough for background. It helps to have something to pass lengthy tasks like kneading or blending. Also think sing-along or random exclamations of “Knead to the beat!”
  • Get the children to find and fetch the ingredients. Framed as a “Baking Treasure Hunt” I’ve seen it help reading skills and memory.
  • Weighing is a surprisingly enticing activity which always draws willing volunteers.  If they overshoot the mark when pouring, it’s no biggie (despite their possible panic!)

So now on to the fun stuff- the recipes! These are a selection of what ended up on the cooling rack…

No Bake Chocolate Cookies

Pumpkin Bread

Sugar Cookies

Simple White Loaf ( and how this can be used to make Pizza)

 

Mud Puddles (aka No Bake Chocolate Cookies)

pic 4

 

Ingredients

200g caster sugar

125ml semi-skimmed milk

115g salted butter

4 tablespoons cocoa, unsweetened

1 tablespoon good quality vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

120g gram crunchy peanut butter

225g Jumbo Oats

225g Quick Oats

Method
  • Line baking sheets with baking parchment
  • Bring the sugar, milk, butter and cocoa to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, then keep on a rolling boil for 1 minute
  • Remove from the heat. Add the oats, peanut butter, vanilla and salt, and stir to combine
  • Drop spaced tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet
  • Leave to cool at room temperature for min 1 hour. After this they’ve set enough tp pick up and eat. I find they usually taste better and are easier to handle the next day
  • These can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days

 

Pumpkin Bread

pic 3

Ingredients

250g all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

400g caster sugar

170g unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

1 can (425g)  pumpkin (make sure it’s 100% pumpkin puree)

pic 2

Method
  • Preheat your oven to 160c or 325F.
  • Prepare two 1lb loaf tines with cake release or grease with butter
  • In a bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices
  • In a stand mixer combine the sugar, butter and eggs and mix for at least 10 mins
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low and add in the flour mixture by heaped tablespoon at a time. Keep  the mixer going until just combined – make sure there are no white flour pockets
  • Remove the bowl, pour the mixture equally between the prepared tins and level the top
  • Bake in the oven for 60-70mins until a skewer comes out clean
  • Remove from the oven, remove from tins and leave to cool on a wire rack. When cool wrap in clingfilm until needed.
  • These loaves get better over time. After a couple of days wrapped they develop a fudgy, sticky texture which goes really with the warming spicy flavor (similar to McVities Jamaican Ginger Cake for those of you who know it?)

 

Sugar Cookies

pic 5

Ingredients

350g unsalted butter, softened

400g caster sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

620g all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Icing sugar for dusting and rolling

 

Method
  • Preheat oven to 200C or 400F
  • Line cookie sheets with baking parchment
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl
  • In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth (mix for at least 10 mins)
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time,and vanilla
  • With the mixer on a slow speed, stir in the flour mixture one heaped tablespoon at a time until well combined and a dough formed
  • Tip the dough onto clingfilm and wrap tightly
  • Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight)
  • Dust a surface with icing sugar, sprinkle the dough with icing sugar and roll out the dough to a thickness of apx 5mm (*use icing sugar to prevent sticking to surface and rolling-pin)
  • Cut out shapes using cookie cutters and transfer to prepared baking sheets
  • Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 mins
  • Remove and use a wide spatula or palette knife to transfer the soft cookies to wire rack to cool. They’ll firm up upon further cooling.

* I made 50/50 blend of vanilla and chocolate sugar cookie by removing half the dough when refrigerating it and leaving half in the bowl. To this I added 50g unsweetened cocoa powder and 100g unsweetened chocolate chips. Mix until well combined then refrigerate and make as per the rest of the recipe.

 

Simple White Loaf

pic 12

Ingredients

500g Bread flour

12g fast action yeast

10g salt

40ml light olive oil

320ml warm water

pic 10

Method
  • In a bowl combine the flour, yeast (to one side) and salt (to opposite side)
  • In bowl combine olive oil and water
  • Pour the water/oil mixture into the flour bowl in a steady stream
  • With your hand in a “Claw” shape mix from outside of the bowl towards to centre. Continue until all the mixture comes together into a dough ball and the bowl sides are clean
  • Lightly oil a surface with olive oil and tip out the dough onto it
  • Knead the dough for 10 mins until it becomes smooth and elastic
  • Transfer the kneaded dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with some lightly oiled cling film. Leave to rise until doubled in size
  • Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and dust with bread flour
  • Again lightly oil a surface and tip out the risen dough
  • Punch and knead the dough, for about 5 mins, until all the air has been expelled from it (called “Knocking Back”)
  • Shape with your hands into a long oval shape and transfer to the prepared baking sheet
  • Cover loosely with some damp kitchen paper or oiled cling film and leave for 40-60 mins until risen
  • Preheat your oven to 225c or 435F
  • Once the dough has risen, lightly spray with water, slash the top of the loaf, dust with all-purpose flour and place it in the preheated oven. After doing this place a dish filled with 1 pint of water in the bottom of the oven (this creates a crust)
  • Bake for 25mins, at which point reduce the temperature to 200c or 390F and continue to bake for a further 15-20mins
  • Remove the loaf from the oven (careful of the steam!) and leave to cool

Pizza adaptation

I’ve also used this recipe to make pizzas which the kids absolutely go crazy for. I’m not sure that it’s as much for the taste of it as it is for the whole “I’ve made this!” boost to their confidence. To use this for pizza making follow the steps until the “Knocking Back” stage.

pic 9

  • After knocking back the dough divide into equal pieces (I usually get 4-5 good size pizzas from this quantity of dough).
  • Preheat your oven to 250C or 475F (with baking sheets or pizza stones in)
  • Sprinkle a surface with a 50/50 combination of all-purpose flour and semolina
  • Dust the dough with some of the flour/semolina mixture. Flatten and stretch the dough until thin into which ever shape works best for you- circle, oval or rectangular. It just depends on what fits with your oven
  • Dress to your (and your kids!) taste with toppings. All of the following are good- tomato passata (as sauce); cheese shreds; bacon; tuna; pepperoni; chicken; fresh herbs; fresh mozzarella; thinly sliced figs…thre list can go on!
  • Carefully remove and dust your baking sheets or pizza stone with flour/ semolina mixture
  • Transfer your pizza(s) to baking sheets or pizza stone and bake for 10-12 mins until ready
  • Remove from oven, brush the exposed sides with extra virgin olive oil and servepic 8

So there’s a brief selection of some o the tasty goods from my kitchen. I hope you enjoy baking them, getting your kids to pitch in and tasting them as much as we have.

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe Alert…Peanut Butter Oattie cookies

2015-04-22 13.13.58

My Peanut Butter Oattie cookies are packed full of oats giving them a soft, chewy texture with whole peanuts adding pleasing crunchiness. Make sure you use salted peanuts as they add wonderful pockets of tangy saltiness contrasting the sweet oats.

Sweet, salty, chewy and incredibly moresish- you need to try these beauties! They’re proving incredibly  popular in my household at the moment- I’ve already lost count of the times I’ve been asked to make them. A fantastic treat to have in stock when the kids bundle home from school- a hard days “Rock; Paper; Scissors” having depleted their energy levels! Partnered with a glass of cold milk it’s indeed a marriage made in heaven. But it’s not just my children who can be found pilfering the cookie jar when these are about. My husband’s preference for the savory means he’s oftened to be found checking emails with cookie in hand!

I call them cookies as opposed to biscuits as a personal preference. For me biscuits represent something more uniform and structured- exact bites of crumbly sweetness. The cookie on the other hand is something more rustic. A ballsier rebel of the Baking World conforming less to the rules of appearence and plunging headfirst into the realm of flavours. Cookies don’t care how you think they look- they prefer to let their flavours make an impression. These cookies are not your small, danity bite size treats. They are large handfuls of tastiness- not meant to be nibbled on but greedily chomped at. Partnered with a glass of cold milk your satifaction is sure to be sealed with dripping, grinning milky moustache.

2015-04-22 12.41.18

Peanut Butter Oattie Cookies

Makes between 24-30 (depending on size)

175g Unsalted butter

225g Crunchy peanut butter

4 tablespoons Maple syrup

150g Caster sugar

150g Light brown sugar

2 large Eggs

1 tablespoon Vanilla extract

225g Plain flour

2 teaspoons Bicarb of soda

1/2 teaspoon Salt

250g Jumbo porridge oats

100g Salted peanuts

 

Method

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter, peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract and both of the sugars. Set to beat on medium speed. Beat for about 10 mins.
  • Whilst the butter mixing is beating you can get on the the other parts of the recipe. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C and line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
  • In a separate large bowl combine the flour, bicarb of soda, and salt.
  • Add the porridge oats and peanuts and mix throughly.
  • To the butter mixture add 1 egg and beat to evenly incorporate. Add the remaining egg and once again beat to evenly incorporate.
  • Remove the bowl from the mixer and slowly add half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until just incorporated. Add in the remainder of the dry ingredients and once again mix until just combined. The batter will be quite stiff and lumpy. Don’t worry- this is exactly what you want.
  • Using two dessert spoons or an icecream scoop, place plarge balls (slightly larger than golf-ball shapes) onto the lined baking trays. Leave apx 2 inches between each cookie ball as they will spread whilst cooking they will spread. (I’m never too fussed about having them an even size as I think having them varying shapes and textures adds to their charm and  tastiness).
  • Place the cookie trays into the preheated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, until they spread and are golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and allow the baked cookies to rest on the trays for about 8-10mins. They will still be a bit soft at this point so remove from the trays with a fish-slice or flat spatula and leave to cool fully on wire racks. During cooling they will frim up some more giving a soft cookie texture.
  • Once fully cooled, remove from the rack and enjoy.

 

In the meantime,

“Remember Mom’s the word- that’s Mr. Mom’s!”

There’s a Moose…loose…aboot this hoose

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I recently managed to get my hands on what I predict will be a hit of 2015- Moose Maple Butter. It’s a delicious blend of “organic butter, Grade A maple syrup and a dash of sea-salt”- all the brain child of the wonderful Farrah. As a fan of maple syrup I cannot recommend this highly enough. Not quite the sticky OTT maple hit that you get from syrup, the butter and sea-salt counter what could be a sweetness overload to give a rich, velvety and utterly moreish spread.

absolutely

I tried it first at the weekend, smeared over some hot crumpets. I was in heaven! Anything so simple that tastes that divine is a must have in my book. Sadly I was too overcome with awe (okay, okay I was too busy smearing and stuffing my face) to remember to take a photograph of the crumpets, transformed into shining amulets whafting of sweet maple-y goodness. But fear not! I have not completely abandoned my baking vocation in favourite of crumpets. In addition to its ease of use straight from the jar, Moose Maple Butter also would appear to be a wonderful addition to any bakers list of ingredients.

File 23-03-2015 19 30 11

Rather than go my usual route of cupcakes and soft bakes, I decided to try Moose Maple Butter out in cookies…but with a twist. Are you intrigued? If so carry on…

Maple Butter Cookies with prosciutto dust.

Maple Butter Cookies with prosciutto dust.

Maple Butter Cookies with prosciutto dust

These are my take on the all American breakfast favourite of pancakes, bacon and maple syrup. Crisp, mellow with a wonderful smoky saltiness from the prosciutto dust these are a great treat to snuggle down in front of the TV with. If made to a smaller size they also make a wonderfully different party bite.

Ingredients

185g Self-raising flour

185g Plain flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

125g Moose Maple Butter, softened to room temp

125g light brown sugar

3 slices prosciutto ham

 

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 C (electric)/ 140 C (fan). Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Cream together maple butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You need to do this for at least between 10- 12mins. The easiest way to check is to feel a little mixture between you thumb and forefinger. If it still feels a little grainy you need to mix some more. If it feels smooth- you’re good to go.
  • Add the egg, sift in the flours and salt and mix together until mixture comes together. At this point you may chill it in the fridge for about 20 mins if you prefer an easier to work with dough.
  • Turn onto lightly floured surface.
  • Roll mixture out to into walnut sized balls. Transfer to prepared tray.
  • Using a fork dipped in water, quickly press into the surface of the ball to flatten slightly and make grooves.
  • Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and transfer, using a fish slice or wide spatula, to a cooling rack.
  • Whilst the cookies are cooling, dry fry the prosciutto slices in a pan until they darken and become crisp.
  • Remove, leave to cool and further crisp up. When fully cooled, the ham will become quite crisp and hard.
  • Break the crisp ham slices into a mortar and grind with a pestle to a fine powder.
  • Sprinkle the prosciutto powder over the cooled cookies, allowing it to catch into the surface grooves.
  • Enjoy!

File 23-03-2015 19 07 15

 

If you’d like to know more about Farrah, Moose Maple Butter please do head over to the website at www.moosemaple.co.uk I’m sure there’s big things in store for the Moose!

In the meantime,

“Remember Mom’s the word- that’s Mr. Mom’s!”

 

Christmas Cake Parade

This December saw me at my busiest in the kitchen. In fact it’s safe to say that the festive month positively came and went in a flurry of flour and icing sugar. Word of Mr. Mom’s seems to have spread from which I am truly grateful to you all.

However, it wasn’t cupcakes that had me in a baking flurry- for some reason there was a run on the traditional Christmas cakes. Needless to say me being me I decided a little experimentation was in order. Not with the overall cake mix- that would be a travesty even I couldn’t bear! So I decided to push the envelope in other areas – increasing size; changing structure; and trying hand-painting to name a few.

Now I know the festive season has come and gone, and we’ve all had our fill of turkey, stuffing and figgy pudding (after all the Easter eggs are already on the shelves don’t you know?) but I couldn’t resist gathering the cakes together for a final look. Now that I don’t reek of brandy and dried fruit!

Holly & Ivy

“The Holly & The Ivy” traditional Christmas cake

Holly & Ivy detail 1Fondant “Holly” detail

Holly & Ivy detail 2

Fondant “Ivy Detail”

The Night before xmas“The Night before Christmas traditional Christmas cake

The North Pole

“The North Pole” Christmas cake

Painted Fondant

Hand-painted fondant detail

Gingerbread Hatbox

“Gingerbread Hatbox” tiered traditional Christmas cake

Gingerbread Stars

“Gingerbread Extravaganza” 12″ square Christmas cake

Large Holly & Ivy

“The Holly & The Ivy” 12″ square traditional Christmas cake

Winter Starfall

“Winter Starfall” traditional Christmas cake

Winter Bouquet cake

“Winter Bouquet” traditional Christmas cake

Winter Rose detail

Fondant “frosted rose” detail

Last December also saw me baking my Christmas cookies en masse. Crisp, spiced and with just a hint of orange these are as close to a secret family recipe as I have. I’ve lost track of the original recipe I used for these thanks the number of preferential additions, omissions and tweaks I’ve made along the way.  Having now baked these each Christmas since my husband and I have been together they really are woven into the fabric of our family. A sidebar annotated with dough flour fingerprints along with scribbled and smeared amends stands testament to their enduring popularity in our house. I will, in fact, confess to having moments of misty-eyed sentimentality, standing in wafts of clovey aroma as the cookies bake,  where I think of passing the recipe onto my children (one of which seems to have an affinity for baking whilst the other is wholly interested in the end product alone!) I think in total there was over 250 baked this year, and there’s still 2 batches of dough in the freezer- that is another experiment waiting to happen!

Cookies 3

Cut and ready to go

Cookies 4

About to go for the bake

Cookies 2

Spicey, zesty and warm – Christmas in a bite!

Cookies 1

I hope you’ve enjoyed this stroll down Santa Claus Lane? Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you all a (belated!) happy New Year and here’s to 2015!

In the meantime, “Remember Mom’s the word- that’s Mr. Mom’s!”