Snowball cookies are a great cookie to make during the winter because their look really fits the season, even if you don’t live somewhere where it snows. Snowball cookies are always covered in a layer of confectioners’ sugar that makes them resemble snowballs – hence the name – but they can come in a wide variety of flavors and colors. These Peppermint Mocha Snowball Cookies are inspired by one of the most popular holiday drinks out there and they’re a fitting tribute that also happens to pair extremely well with a liquid peppermint mocha.
The snowballs start with a buttery shortbread cookie base. Cocoa powder, vanilla extract and peppermint extract are all added to build the mint chocolate flavor. I added instant espresso powder, as well, so that you could taste a bit of coffee in each bite. I prefer instant espresso power to regular instant coffee because it has a more intense flavor and stands out a bit more. If you don’t have it, instant coffee can be used. I do recommend Starbucks Via, which is more intense than your average instant coffee powder, for most baking applications, including this one. The dough will appear to be a bit dry as it comes together, but it will come together as you keep mixing. Once the dough does come together, it should be shaped into balls and baked until just set. The chocolate cookies should be completely cooled before rolling them in confectioners’ sugar to finish the snowball look. You’ll get a more even coating on cooled cookies and, since the sugar won’t melt from the heat of the oven, you’ll get a better color.
The cookies definitely capture the peppermint mocha flavor, with a well-balanced combination of mocha and mint. They’re tender and almost melt in your mouth when you eat them, making them quite addictive. Each cookie is large enough for about two big bites. The recipe can be halved to make a smaller batch, but since they keep well and only get better as they sit, there is no harm in making a big batch and putting some away in an airtight container for another day.
Peppermint Mocha Snowball Cookies
1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp instant espresso powder (or instant coffee)
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour/meal
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
extra confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, vanilla extract, peppermint extract and salt until smooth and creamy. Beat in cocoa powder and espresso /coffee powder until well-incorporated.
Gradually mix in the flour and ground almonds at low speed, mixing until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. The dough may appear very dry at first, but it will come together as you mix.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are set and a bit firm to the touch. Allow cookies to cool for 3-4 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
When cooled, roll cookies in confectioners’ sugar until well-coated in white “snow.”
Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 4 dozen
Earlier this year, I started to plan how to best celebrate my fifteenth wedding anniversary. I knew that, for my wife and I at least, the ideal celebration would be built around a mini-vacation and a great meal. But with so many great restaurants in the world, where to go? After a few days of contemplation, I realised the restaurant we’d probably have the best time at would be Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa’s Den in Tokyo, Japan.
We’re huge fans of Chef Hasegawa as well as his food. For those who are new to the site, I first visited Den in 2013 and absolutely fell in love with Chef’s culinary artistry and his sense of humour (you can read the article here). Back then, Chef Hasegawa was beloved in Tokyo but not that well-known internationally. Fast forward three years and he’s become a total culinary rock star. Rene Redzepi is a fan. As are a legion of other amazing chefs hailing from all over the planet. Amusingly, one wall by the entrance of the restaurant, once pristine, is now covered with hand-written messages from fellow chefs who have visited the restaurant, who, like me, have become totally enamoured with Zaiyu and his restaurant. Den now has two Michelin stars and earlier this year, Den picked up the One To Watch award at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Award. And very recently, Chef has collaborated with Shake Shack to create an awesome sounding “Den Shack” burger made with an Angus beef patty, topped with bacon, red miso, marinated cucumbers and sandwiched in between potato buns.
After a few email exchanges, I was (thankfully) able to secure two seats at the dining counter (which faces the open kitchen) in Den on the evening of our anniversary. We were absolutely thrilled.
Upon arrival, we were warmly welcomed by Chef Hasegawa, his wife and his marvellous team. Chef was very happy to introduce us to his kitchen team, which now included 4 young non-Japanese chefs doing internships in his kitchen. With his current rock star status, he now has a line of foreign talent fighting to stage with him.
Our first course was something familiar to us. Chef served us one of his signature Monaka (a Japanese traditional sweet). This version was stuffed with foie gras marinated in white miso, green apple jam and smoked pickled radish. This tiny dish offered a brilliant contrast of textures and tastes. Sweet, salty, acidic, crunchy, soft and creamy… all in one small snack.
The next course was one of my favourites of the night: fresh yuba (yofu skin) in a soy milk bechamel sauce topped with sea urchin marinated with soy sauce. Outstanding, rich, umami and delicious dish. Truly sinful and sensational. I especially loved the idea of a soy milk béchamel, a concept I plan to steal for many of my own recipes.
Next up was Chef’s most famous dish — his Dentucky Fried Chicken (DFC). This iteration was a deep fried, deboned chicken wing stuffed with Japanese sticky rice coloured with yellow saffron (turmeric), raisin and almond. I loved the Moorish flavours captured in this dish. As usual, Chef served the DFCs in custom boxes emblazoned with his face. Except that the box he served mine in had my face printed on it instead of his! This sneaky chef had taken a picture of me off the Internet and used it on his DFC box. Talk about customising a meal for one’s customer!
After the DFC, we were served a lovely and small plate of tilefish that had been aged for two days and served with wasabi. I was very intrigued to see that Chef Hasegawa is now exploring raw fish aging techniques. When done masterfully, a chef is able to draw out the very best flavours in the product. My own favourite sushi chef Keiji Nakazawa is an expert at this. It will be very interesting to see where Chef Hasegawa’s explorations of this technique takes him.
Next was a second serving of tilefish. This was a crispy tilefish aged seven days and served with grated radish sauce, and topping with yuzu zest. Beautiful umami dish that provided some wonderful textural contrasts.
Then came Chef’s signature salad, served with a live ant and more than twenty different kinds of vegetables. What is really quite amazing about this salad is that each of the vegetables is prepared in the style that Chef felt best highlighted that ingredient’s flavours. Some were deep-fried, others pickled, others grilled, etc. That meant that every single ingredient was treated like it was the star product on the plate. Which, quite simply, made this dish the best salad I have ever eaten. Add the novelty factor of a wriggling ant that when eaten was astringent but quite tasty and this salad was not just delicious but fun.
After the salad, Chef prepared two claypots of rice for us. First up was rice with ikura (salmon roe) marinated with dashi and served with Japanese pickles and miso soup. True comfort food and very tasty.
The next rice, though, was the crowning achievement of the night. Chef’s claypot rice, topped with Sanma (pacific saury), and mixed with the liver of Sanma, miso, and sake, was quite simply, fucking awesome (pardon my French). This was so damned good. I honestly don’t have the words.
After our two rice dishes, we were quite full, so Chef served us two small desserts. The first was peach marinated with mint, served with frozen yogurt in coconut soup. This was great. It was fresh and cold, and refreshing.
Our final course was Japanese pear served with red wine and fig sherbet. This was, while also a cold dessert, rich and sensuous. While the previous dish woke us up, this dish wanted to tuck me into bed. Which made it a fitting last thing to enjoy in this marvellous restaurant.
Celebrating our fifteenth wedding anniversary at Den was definitely the right thing to do. The food was outstanding. But more importantly, Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa treated us like long lost friends. He and his crew made sure that every part of our experience with them would be memorable, warm, comforting, fun, enriching and pleasurable… Which, in many ways, reflects what a great marriage is about. So, again, perfect place to celebrate the fifteen years of joy and love between my wife and me.
Oh, on a final note, just want to let you all know that Chef is moving his restaurant from Jimbocho to Aoyama at the end of this month. I can’t wait to see the new space.
The post Revisiting Den and the brilliant Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa appeared first on Chubby Hubby.
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I have a confession to make. I don’t always test recipes from cookbooks I review or even recommend. Why? Because I don’t generally follow recipes. I use cookbooks for inspiration, learning techniques or great flavor combinations. I don’t get hung up on instructions because there are so many variables I can’t control (stove, oven and cookware for example).
|Dong Po Pork, left to right: All Under Heaven, Land of Rice & Fish, China|
You will find blending easier than ever with this Cuisinart Smart Stick hand blender. Pick it up to blend cold drinks, hot soups, and crêpe batter – right in the pitcher, pot or bowl. It’s comfortable to hold, easy to use, and the blending shaft and beaker are dishwasher-safe. Enjoy!
This Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender is designed to handle a variety of basic tasks. Elegant brushed chrome or a variety of bold colors houses a powerful motor, and the handy “stick” design lets you blend in a pot, bowl, or pitcher. With two speeds, you can handle all your food prep tasks on high or low. Operation is easy and cleanup is quick. What could be better?
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Powerful 200-watt motor handles more blending tasks Stick design reaches into pots, pitchers, and bowls to extend blending options Ergonomically designed grip offers comfortable hold and more control while blending Operates with two speed, one-touch control for easy, one-handed blending Dishwasher-safe blending shaft and beaker make cleanup effortless Blends drinks, sauces, dressings, dips, purées soup, mixes pancake and crêpe batters in seconds!
One Touch On/Off Button: Allows you to activate the hand blender at the touch of a button. Simply press and hold down the Low or High button to blend or pulse. Once the button is released, blending will stop.
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The specially designed blade is for mixing and stirring all kinds of foods, including salad dressings, powdered drink products, and sauces. It is ideal for combining dry ingredients, and can be used to emulsify mayonnaise, too.
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These easy mini cheesecake cookies have been a holiday staple in my family forever! Nilla wafers are topped with cheesecake batter and cherry pie filling. A perfect bite-size treat!
It’s Christmas cookie time!
I carved out just enough time after getting the boys to bed on Friday night to whip up one of my all-time favorite Christmas recipes – these easy mini cheesecakes! I am such a sucker for cheesecake, so it’s no surprise that this recipe – one of my mom’s oldest and most popular – had always been one of my favorites as a kid. I guess my cheesecake infatuation started from a young age!
Just picture little 8-year-old me going bananas over these little cheesecakes. I was insane about them then, and still am now. These little cheesecake bites were one of three cookies I looked for on every cookie tray (along with buckeyes and peanut butter blossoms), and I always, always ate precisely one more than I really should have (oops!).
These are one of the easiest cookies to throw together, which makes them perfect for someone who needs to squeeze in baking around naps and bedtimes.
All you need to do is grab your mini muffin pans, line them with some paper cups, drop a Nilla wafer in the bottom of each one, then mix together the cheesecake batter (which takes less than 2 minutes), fill the cups, and pop them in the oven!
(Then clean up and get to the couch in enough time to do a little Netflix binging before bed!)
Once the mini cheesecakes are cooled and chilled for a bit, pop open your favorite can of cherry pie filling (or grab a jar of homemade from your stash), and top each little cheesecake with a dollop of the pie filling.
Then take a bite… And another bite… And then another. Speaking from experience, obviously.
For a cheesecake lover like myself, these little cheesecake bites are the next best thing to a slice of regular ol’ cheesecake.
In my world, no holiday cookie tray is complete without a decent representation of these mini cheesecake cookies (but don’t leave those trays unattended, because I will eat them alllllll).
Q: What do you get most excited to see on a Christmas cookie tray?
These miniature cheesecake cookies are easy and a holiday staple in our family. A vanilla wafer is topped with cheesecake batter and cherry pie filling. A perfect bite-size treat!
This recipe was originally published on December 22, 2010.
“name”: “Mini Cheesecake Cookies”,
“name”: “Brown Eyed Baker”
“description”:”These miniature cheesecake cookies are easy and a holiday staple in our family. A vanilla wafer is topped with cheesecake batter and cherry pie filling. A perfect bite-size treat!”,
“40 vanilla wafers”,
“2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature”,
“½ cup (99 grams) granulated sugar”,
“2 eggs, at room temperature”,
“1 teaspoon vanilla extract”,
“Cherry pie filling”
“Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two miniature muffin pans with paper liners (you will only need 40, so leave 8 cups empty). Place one Nilla wafer in the bottom of each mini muffin well. Set aside.Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in the vanilla extract.Divide the batter evenly among each cup. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges and top appear set.Cool the cheesecakes completely in the pan, then transfer to an airtight container and chill for at least 2 hours. Top with a small amount of cherry pie filling. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The mini cheesecakes should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.”
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The revered Iron Chef shows how to make flavorful, exciting traditional Japanese meals at home in this beautiful cookbook that is sure to become a classic, featuring a carefully curated selection of fantastic recipes and more than 150 color photos.
Japanese cuisine has an intimidating reputation that has convinced most home cooks that its beloved preparations are best left to the experts. But legendary chef Masaharu Morimoto, owner of the wildly popular Morimoto restaurants, is here to change that. In Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking, he introduces readers to the healthy, flavorful, surprisingly simple dishes favored by Japanese home cooks.
Chef Morimoto reveals the magic of authentic Japanese food—the way that building a pantry of half a dozen easily accessible ingredients allows home cooks access to hundreds of delicious recipes, empowering them to adapt and create their own inventions. From revelatory renditions of classics like miso soup, nabeyaki udon, and chicken teriyaki to little known but unbelievably delicious dishes like fish simmered with sake and soy sauce, Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking brings home cooks closer to the authentic experience of Japanese cuisine than ever before.
And, of course, the famously irreverent chef also offers playful riffs on classics, reimagining tuna-and-rice bowls in the style of Hawaiian poke, substituting dashi-marinated kale for spinach in oshitashi, and upgrading the classic rice seasoning furikake with toasted shrimp shells and potato chips. Whatever the recipe, Chef Morimoto reveals the little details—the right ratios of ingredients in sauces, the proper order for adding seasonings—that make all the difference in creating truly memorable meals that merge simplicity with exquisite flavor and visual impact.
This method of rolling out pie dough, fitting it to the pie plate, crimping the edges, and blind baking the crust is one you can use with any pie dough recipe and for any pie recipe that requires a pre-baked or blind-baked pie crust.
This is a continuation of my sourdough pie crust tutorial, so the pie dough in the photos below is an all-butter pastry dough made with the addition of sourdough starter. But it behaves pretty much like any all-butter pie dough.
I have tried many different methods of blind baking pie crusts over the years and I’ve never run across one that is foolproof. I’ve dealt with so many slumped, shrunken, misshapen pie crusts!
But this year is different. Thanks to this amazing post by Stella Parks at Serious Eats, I feel like I finally have a go-to method that I can rely on.
So let’s get started.
First of all, when blind baking a pie crust, you want to start with the right pie plate. The best pie plate for a single crust pie is one with a flat lip around the outside. That lip is important in helping to build up a crust edge that keeps the pie crust from slumping or becoming misshapen.
Glass and metal pie plates will give you the best results when blind baking a pie crust because they conduct heat better than ceramic. I like to use these basic 9-inch Pyrex pie plates.
You want to start with pie dough that is well chilled, because it is important to keep the butter from softening too much while rolling it out. The problem is that cold butter is very firm so it’s really not that easy to roll out.
But follow along and I’ll show you a little trick to help you get rolling.
To get started, you want to make sure you flour your rolling surface and have extra flour nearby because you’ll be adding extra flour as you go.
I like to keep flour in a little shaker canister because it’s easy to add just a bit of flour when I need it. But keeping a bowl full of flour nearby to sprinkle with your fingers works well, too.
Make sure to flour the top of the dough as well.
Now here’s the little trick. To soften the dough quickly, without letting it warm up, I like to pound it a bit with my rolling pin. I can’t remember where I saw this, but I have a feeling that it came from Julia Child. It seems like something she would do! Anyway, it works great.
As you whack it a few times, you’ll see it expand a bit in one direction. Next, turn it 90 degrees, and hit it a few more times. The dough will then be a bit more pliable and easier to roll. And by turning the dough as you hit it, it should keep a somewhat circular shape.
Now, check to see if it’s sticking underneath and add some more flour on the top and bottom before you start rolling.
I like to start rolling from the center and up, and then roll back down to the bottom. Then I give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. As you’re rolling and turning, check for sticking and just sprinkle a bit more flour as you go. It’s also useful to flip the dough over a few times.
I’m going to share a video at the bottom of this post demonstrating how to roll out pie dough, because it’s not easy to show in pictures.
Depending on your pie crust recipe and how dry your dough is, you may end up with some cracking. I usually do, because I tend to err on the side of a dryer dough. If this happens, just kind of pinch the cracks together with your fingertips and continue on.
I try to roll my dough out to between a 13- and 14-inch diameter. This gives me enough overhang to account for cracks or a not-quite-round circle. And yes, I do measure.
I actually keep a small tape measure or roll of measuring tape in a kitchen drawer with my baking stuff, because I’m not very good at estimating measurements.
To move the dough to the pie plate, I think it’s easiest to carefully fold it in half before lifting it, then lay it over half the pie plate and carefully unfold it. Some people wrap it around the rolling pin and then unroll it over the plate, but the folding method works best for me.
Once you get the dough into the pie plate, try not to stretch it. Just gently ease it in, as centered as you can.
In order to have an even crimped edge, it’s good to start with an even overhang, which will be folded under to create the crimped edge. It’s easiest to use scissors to trim the dough, and I like to trim it to about an inch all around. Yes, I measured it again. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but just try to keep it fairly even.
Next, fold that overhang underneath so that the edge of the folded dough is about even with the edge of the pie plate. That pie crust edge will hang on to the pie plate while it is baking and help prevent it from slumping down. This is why a plain pie plate with a lip around the outside works best for single crust pies.
Next, you can make a decorative edge by crimping the dough with your fingers or using the tines of a fork to press it down against the pie plate edge. Again, I’ll share a video down below to demonstrate how to make a fluted edge.
Crimping the pie crust edge with your fingers or a fork not only makes your pie look nice, but it also helps to keep the crust in place while baking.
Once your crust is formed, you’ll need to chill it again before baking it. In my experience, the minimum is one hour, but the Serious Eats article on blind baking a pie crust suggests a minimum of two hours. This last time, I split the difference and chilled it for an hour and a half, because that’s what my schedule allowed.
Now here are some more of the tricks I learned from the Serious Eats article.
Instead of standard pie weights, beans, or rice, you can use sugar to weigh down the crust while baking it. The sugar is heavy and spreads to evenly fill the pie plate. Line the crust with foil, then fill it to the brim!
When you’re done with it, the sugar can be stored and used as normal. It will eventually turn a light brown if you bake it more than once, but the flavor of the lightly toasted sugar is wonderful and would enhance pretty much any dessert.
The second trick is to bake the crust at 350 degrees for a full hour, with the foil and sugar (or pie weights) in place the entire time. I have to admit I was a little skeptical of this idea, but it worked so well!
The foil protected the crust from over-browning, the crust didn’t shrink or slump or puff up. This is by far the best result I’ve ever had blind baking a pie crust!
To read more about the details of this method, read the full post on Serious Eats. It’s full of great information!
Even though I baked this lemon cream pie for an additional 20 minutes at 325 degrees, you can see that the pre-baked crust did not brown too much. This will definitely be my method of choice for blind baking pie crusts in the future.
Now here are those videos I promised!
This one from Real Simple shows you how to roll out a pie crust. If you can’t see the embedded video below, you can watch it here on YouTube.
And here’s a video from Fine Cooking that shows you one way to crimp the edges of your pie crust. If you can’t see the embedded video below, you can watch it here on YouTube.
Pie Crust Recipes Around the Web: