Chocolate Coconut Macaroon Birdnests

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Chocolate coconut macaroon bird nest by twocarolines.com

Coconut Macaroons are the little bit messy fun and tasty sister of the French Macaroon.  The French version is always put together with expensive accessories and fancy words but the coconut macaroon is more fun and tasty, a beautiful mess of chewy goodness which makes for an ideal bird nest to hold everyones favorite seasonal candy, Cadbury mini eggs.  I was inspired by a Nigella Lawson recipe that used shredded wheat and melted chocolate for nests, which was cute, but a macaroon nest is yummier and more fun.  In my first batch I baked the eggs which made them really melty and good but they cracked so in my second I put the eggs into the nests when they were right out of the oven which worked perfectly because the hot cookies still made the eggs nice and creamy and with the chewy chocolatey cookie it’s like a little Easter miracle!

4 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
3 large egg whites
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sweetened dried coconut shredded or flaked.
Cadbury Mini Eggs

  1.  In a heatproof bowl melt your chocolate.  I do this in a pyrex using the microwave on defrost until the chocolate looses it’s shape and I can whisk it smooth.  If you don’t have defrost only melt in 20 second increments or you will burn your chocolate.  You can also use a double boiler if you prefer.  Set aside to cool some while you assemble the rest of your cookie ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, lightly whisk the egg whites.  Add cocoa powder, sugar, salt and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.  Stir in the coconut and melted chocolate, making sure the coconut is completely coated with the chocolate mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour or until firm (doesn’t have to be completely firm, but at least firmed up enough to handle and shape).
  3. Preheat oven to 325.  Line 2 baking sheets with sil-pats or parchment paper.
  4. Place small mounds – I used a cookie scoop – on to your lined baking sheet spacing about 2 inches apart.  Once they are on, shape them into nests using hands or dipping a spoon into the center.  I wore some gloves and shaped them by hand.
  5. Bake 13-15 minutes or until macaroons are shiny and just set.  Remove from oven then put your eggs in while the macaroons are still hot.  Wait about 15 minutes to serve and keep leftover cookies covered.

Macaroon recipe adapted from Joyofbaking.com 

 

Dark Chocolate Chunky Cookies

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dark chocolate chunky cookies by twocarolines.com

Like any rational human, I sometimes have a deep and urgent desire for something intensely chocolate.  At these times, a chocolate chip cookie is not going to cut it, not even a cake, I need a lightning bolt of chocolate flavor, and these cookies are the PERFECT remedy for intense chocolate emergencies of all kinds.  They are not only a super amazing chocolate experience, but they are the perfect texture, packed with chunky bits of nuts and chocolatey goodness.  I found the recipe years ago at my Mother-In-Law’s house, they had a very unappealing name in the book (chocolate chubbies) but I read the ingredients – which included a combined total of 24 ounces of chocolate! Plus, the intro bragged of the recipe being from a famous restaurant in SoHo so I copied it to make once I got home.  It took me forever to do it because there is some serious chocolate chopping involved, and the recipe has a few more steps than your average cookie, but don’t be intimidated, it’s easy to follow and so special when you’re done.  This makes 2 dozen cookies – next time I will half it, because having that many of these dark chocolate chunky cookies around is guaranteed to spell trouble, they are irresistible!

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
9 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate finely chopped
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 large eggs (room temperature if possible)
1 1/4 cups sugar (they called for superfine, but normal sugar worked fine for me)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups (5 1/2 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans
1 1/4 cups (4 1/2 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper (or silpat, or baking spray if you have neither of those)
  2. Melt the butter and chopped chocolate (semi-sweet and unsweetened) either in a double boiler or with my preferred method of melting them slowly in a microwave, either using defrost, or in 20-30 second intervals until the chocolate chunks start to lose their shape and you can whisk them to a smooth texture – melt SLOWLY or your chocolate will burn.  Let the melted chocolate mixture cool slightly, about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  3. Mix (or sift if your fancy) the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.  Whip the eggs in the bowl of a heavy duty stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until the eggs are foamy and lightly thickened, about 30 seconds.  Increase speed to high and gradually add the sugar, then the vanilla.  Whip until the eggs are very thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes.  Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the tepid chocolate, making sure it is completely incorporated.  Change to the paddle attachment and reduce the mixer speed to low.  Gradually add the flour mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips, pecans and walnuts making sure the chunky ingredients are evenly distributed at the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Using a 2-inch diameter ice cream scoop, portion the batter onto the prepared pans, placing the cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Bake the cookies immediately–if you wait, they won’t be shiny after baking.  Bake about 15-18 minutes.  You can check done-ness by seeing if the when you lift a cookie from the pan the edge release easily, if they do, they’re done, even if they still don’t look baked at the top.  Cool and enjoy!
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dark chocolate chunky cookies by twocarolines.com

I wish I could remember the book I copied these out of to give them credit, if this looks familiar and you know where they came from let me know!

Butterscotch Cookies

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I’m more than a little obsessed with cookies. I rarely crave candy—when I want carbs, I want it to have flour and sugar and butter. I know, I know, you can’t stand what a health nut I am! Now is the time where I tell you what diet I’m on and how great it is. Well, if you must know, I’m on what could be called ‘The Inclusion Diet’, and like it’s moniker would suggest, it includes everything. These are the cookie version of my grandpa’s favorite Butterscotch Brownies that I blogged about a while ago and they are the new star item of my diet! If you want to join with me on this Eating Journey™, this is a good place to start.

Butterscotch Cookie Batter:

  • 1/4 cup browned butter
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown butter in small saucepan. Whisk the dry ingredients together; add eggs and vanilla to butter and whisk until combined. Mix butter mixture into dry ingredients until combined. Stir in butterscotch chips. Scoop onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes, let cool.

Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Combine brown sugar and butter; bring to a boil stirring constantly. Add milk and boil slowly for 3 minutes. Whisk in powdered sugar until well-combined. Dip the top of the cooled cookies in frosting and place on parchment paper. Pro tip: if you happen to have these a day or two later, warm up in the microwave for 5 minutes so they are a little gooey again. You’re welcome!

Makes 24 cookies.

-CK 1.0

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

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This time of year we want ALL the spices. Cloves, allspice, cinnamon and—my personal favorite—ginger! And that’s not just because I get called “Ginger Lady” when I visit Turkey. I want all the ginger drinks and edibles! These cookies are the product of two recipes that I really, really like. So I thought they’d make the ultimate “power cookie”. They are super soft and chewy but you can bake them a little bit longer if you want more of a crisp cookie experience.  -CK 1.0

1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 egg

2 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I use 70% cacao Lindt bars, but you could use chocolate chips in a pinch)
Sugar for rolling

  1. Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat brown sugar, oil, ginger and egg, until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.
  3. Slowly combine the wet and dry ingredients until just combined. Mix in chocolate chunks; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1 inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.
  4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into 1 1/2- inch balls; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake until just before the surfaces crack, but not too doughy—about 7 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Gingerbread Cookies

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Gingerbread Cookies by twocarolines.com

3 cheers for the smell of baking ginger and molasses in your house and a gorgeous plate of gingerbread cookies to share with your neighbors and friends.  To me, holiday cookie decorating is all about the kids, so I searched to find a recipe that gave me all the gingerbread flavor I wanted, but not quite as much bite as the most traditional cookies so little kids wouldn’t complain that they are “too spicey” as my 3 year old put it last year.  These ones are called “light spice” but they are HEAVY on delicious holiday flavor and with some bright and festive royal icing they tasted like everything that rules about Christmas.  I hope you enjoy!

For the Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

For the Icing:

  • 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites*
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • food dye (I enjoy the gel kind to keep your consistency, but liquid dye will work) and whatever sprinkles you like

Directions:

  1. For the cookies: In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, shortening, sugars, baking powder, spices, and salt until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and molasses, and beat well.
  3. Mix about half of the flour into the butter mixture. When well combined, add the cornstarch and the remaining flour.
  4. Divide the dough in half, flattening each half slightly to make a disk. Smooth the edges by rolling the disk along a lightly floured work surface. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour (or longer), for easiest rolling.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  6. Take one piece of dough out of the refrigerator, and flour a clean work surface, and the dough.
  7. Roll it out as thin or thick as you like. For slightly less crisp cookies, roll it out more thickly. We like to roll these cookies 1/8″ to 1/4″inch thick. Use flour under and on top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the table or rolling pin.
  8. Alternatively, place the dough on parchment, and put a sheet of plastic wrap or another piece of parchment over it as you roll, pulling the plastic or parchment to eliminate wrinkles as necessary when rolling; this will keep dough from sticking without the need for additional flour.

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    rolled out gingerbread by twocarolines.com

  9. Transfer the cookies to ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets.
  10. Bake them just until they’re slightly brown around the edges, or until they feel firm, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  11. Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheet for several minutes, or until they’re set. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  12. For the icing: In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites tiny pinch of salt and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired. For immediate use, transfer icing to pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag and pipe as desired. If using storage bag, clip corner. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.  I split mine into multiple colors by mixing them in dixie cups and piping them with disposable piping bags.  *Royal icing does contain raw eggs, I’ve never had a problem with this, my husband worked for a huge egg distributor for 5 years and as long as they are pasteurized and not super old, you are likely to be fine, but if you have a crazy sensitive stomach there are other icings you can find.

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    Christmas Cookies by twocarolines.com

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour light spice holiday cookies and Alton Brown Royal Icing Recipe.

Pfeffernüsse

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Every Christmas growing up, my mom would painstakingly make cookies that we called Peppernuts. They were a household favorite, but the only thing we didn’t like about these cookies is that they have to “age”—it’s pretty much the only cookie that gets better with time. So we would have to wait a week, while looking at that pastel pink glass dish, waiting for the time that we could dig in, but oooooh was it worth it!

Little did I know that years later, I’d be living in Germany, supposedly the home of the Peppernuts, or more accurately, Pfeffernüsse. I have scoured Christmas markets two years in a row now, looking for a freshly baked, truly German Pfeffernüsse cookie to no avail. I’ve quizzed many a German about this and they said they’ve never had a homemade one and they have only seen them in stores. I bought a bag and was sorely disappointed. So, this year I have taken matters in my own hands to make a traditional German cookie that a lot of Germans have never had—funny how things work sometimes.

I did make some adjustments, I added cardamom, since it seems to be such a traditional holiday spice around these parts. The sauce that was always the really hard part was going to be too difficult for me to make with my lo-fi kitchen, so I went with what I saw in every other recipe and did a powdered sugar coating, rather than a divinity glaze like my mom would make. Additionally, these are her favorite cookies in the world, so that is the best endorsement you could ask for! – CK 1.0

Pfeffernüsse cookie batter:
2 ½ cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon  cardamom
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans (it’s hard to find pecans, so used almonds)
Powdered sugar for dipping

Sift flour with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, pepper, and baking soda. In large bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat 2 eggs and brown sugar until light and somewhat glossy, about 5 minutes. At low speed, beat in flour mixture and nuts until well combined. Dough will be a bit sticky.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with baking paper. With wet hands, pinch off dough by tablespoonfuls. Roll into 1-inch balls. Place on prepared cookie sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes, until the tops are just barely cracking. Remove to wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. In two batches, place cookies and a good amount of powdered sugar in a large plastic bag. Roll cookies around until well coated then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks and try to let them age a few days before gobbling them up!

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***IF you want to be ambitious and make the divinity glaze, you will want a stand mixer that you can leave on for 10-15 minutes.

Divinity Glaze:
1 cup water
3 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream tartar
2 egg whites

In large saucepan, combine sugar, and 1 cup water. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring, 5 minutes, or until mixture forms a 2-inch thread when dropped from spoon or to 235 degrees on candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, with electric mixer at medium speed, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Pour syrup in continuous stream slowly into egg whites beating constantly. Beat until mixture thickens slightly and starts to lose shine, 6-8 minutes. Drop cookies a few at a time into glaze; with fork, turn to coat all over. Lift out and, using two forks, place on wire rack (with cookie sheet beneath to catch drips) until dry. Store in tightly covered container at least one week before eating.

Striped Citrus Meringue Cookies

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Striped Citrus Meringue Cookies by twocarolines.com

While sitting with my 3 year old on the couch I did a quick browse on my Instagram and a video popped up on my Wilton feed with these beautiful little Meringue cookies – Millie excitedly said “Mom! They are like rainbow chocolate chips, we have to make them!” fullsizeoutput_657cObviously I am not capable of denying a face like this so we spent the afternoon making these beautiful cookies and then had a blast delivering them to friends.  Millie felt very strongly that they needed to be pink with stripes, so we put a touch of red food coloring in our stiff peaks, but you can do these so many ways.  They are the perfect cookie for any occasion that calls for “cute” such as a baby shower, childrens birthday or even a fun wedding.  I thought they were pretty but was not expecting them to taste too exciting, and I’m happy to report, they were just delicious!  Bright and sweet with a beautiful texture and nice vanilla lemon flavor.  They really are a joy to make and to eat! -CK 2.0

  • 6 large egg whites (fresh work best)img_4557
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • zest of 1 lemon, orange or lime (I used lemon and loved it!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
  • food dye of your choice
  1. Prepare 2 cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper.  I ended up having leftover even after filling 2 cookie sheets so you might need another or you can just discard or eat your leftover meringue.  Preheat oven to 200
  2. put your 6 egg whites in the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer (you can use any heatproof bowl and a hand mixer too – but stand mixers are nice for meringue because stiff peaks take a while).  Add a pinch of salt and whisk it up a bit to break up your whites.  Next add your sugar and whisk all of that for a minute then put it over a pot of boiling water.  Continue whisking until your mixture is a little warm and the sugar granules are dissolved so you don’t feel them between your fingers.  Once the sugar is dissolved, take off the heat and add your 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar.  Set in your stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whip on a high setting until your get nice glossy stiff peaks. Once you have pretty stiff peaks add your citrus zest and vanilla.  We also added a touch of red coloring at this stage so our base color would be pink.
  3. Take a few dots of meringue and use it as glue between your parchment and cookie sheet so the parchment paper doesn’t try to come up while you pipe out your cookies.  To prepare your piping bag, find a tip that’s about 1/2 inch round – I used the Ateco 808 which worked perfectly.  I also used Wilton disposable piping bags, which are so handy, but you could fill any bag and I think it would work fine.  You could also use a star tip, but make it a large one.  Next, cut the hole in the bottom of your bag, make sure your tip is a tight fit, then paint with any paintbrush (or even your finger if you don’t have one) stripes down the sides of the bag of whatever color you want to pipe out.  We used blue and purple in ours which was really pretty, but suit yourself.  The color might not show up until you’ve piped out a few cookies FYI.  I put my bag into a tall vase and fold the top over all the way around.  This way I have a hard surface to scrape off and push down the meringue filling, but I can still get a clean twist at the top to squeeze with.  Piping out the cookies is easy, just apply a little pressure from the top with your tip close to the cookie sheet then stop pushing before you pull it up in a little twist.  There are lots of shapes you can do – have fun with it!
  4. Bake in a 200 degree oven for a good hour and a half.  Rotate somewhere in the middle of that and to let the cookies cool, just turn off the oven and let them cool in the oven.  They will be crisp, come off easily, but not brown.  I used tongs to put them on plates for friends because they did stick to my fingers a little.  Enjoy!

 

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striped lemon meringue cookies by twocarolines.com

Recipe adapted from Renee Conner – I got it from her youtube video that had some other fun videos too – check it out!