Ja cię kocham…

….simple, healthy, and with lots of love.

Nigella’s Chocolate Christmas Cookies

December 20, 2009 By: kristi Category: Cookies, Dessert, Food for Thought

Nigella's Chocolate Cookies

This Christmas will be the first time that I host a holiday dinner for a large crowd!  Needless to say the past month has been filled with scouring through recipes, testing them out and deciding whether or not they are worthy of a Christmas Feast.  My main struggle is trying to keep things fairly simple while creating an elegance and charm that sets this meal apart from any other weekend.  Simple Elegance.  Hmmmm…

Table for Xmas

One thing that drives me insane is an overly crowded dinner table FILLED with decorations, serving plates, glasses, butter, jam, and much more!  I am definitely one that enjoys simplicity and a fairly clear table.  (That was a MUST for our wedding -  a beautiful table with room to see the table cloth!)

Wedding Table

Our wedding table scape…

I like to have a separate little table for large platters of food to give guests the room to breathe and more importantly room to eat!

Table 3

Table 2

This being said… I have to be honest with you.  I’m “hosting” Christmas dinner at my parents’ house.  I know!  After all of this explaining and these pictures… nope, I’m not having dinner here.  My home, as adorable and warm as it is, isn’t suitable for a crowd of 12.  Half of us would have to eat in the living room and the rest in the dining room and kitchen.  I prefer all of us at one table.  My parents’ house can accommodate such a crowd and my need for togetherness.   This doesn’t mean that I don’t like it when family members sit at different tables.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with people eating in the living and dining room at one time.  A lot of the time this is what happens at my house when we have guests over so please don’t think that I frown upon this.  It’s just for this particular meal I have a vision of all of us together because this is the first time in a very, VERY long time that we have so many loved ones gathered at one time.  I can’t wait for there to be too many family members to fit at one table!

Anyway, I really want to introduce to you these cookies from Nigella Lawson.  I just want her British accent and her incredible ability to speak as if she’s reading from a novel.   Nigella is absolutely lovely in every sense of the word.

These cookies are chocolate shortbread cookies.  Amazingly good but easy to dry out.  So keep a close eye on them.

Nigella’s Chocolate Christmas Cookies

Makes 24 cookies

Source: From Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson. Also found on Oprah.com

Ingredients:

For cookies:

2 1/4 sticks (18 Tbsp.) soft butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

Topping:

2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup boiling water , from a kettle
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Christmas sprinkles

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325° and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl and, when you have a light, soft whipped mixture, beat in the 1/3 cup cocoa powder (sifting if it is lumpy) and, when that’s mixed in, beat in the flour with the baking soda and baking powder. Or just put everything in the processor.

Nigella recommends using vinyl gloves when handling the dough due to its sticky nature.  Personally, I didn’t find it necessary.  Pinch off pieces about 1 tablespoon in size, roll them into balls, then slightly flatten into fat discs as you place them, well spaced, on your cookies sheet.

Bake each batch for 15 minutes; even though the cookies won’t feel as if they’ve had enough time, they will continue to cook as they cool. They will look slightly cracked on top.  Mine never got that crackly appearance but I took them out anyway because I didn’t want to dry them out.  You’re icing them anyway.

Move the cookie sheet to a cold surface and let it sit for 15 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack, with a sheet of newspaper under it (to catch drips while topping them).

To make the topping, put the cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar, water and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and whisk over a low heat until everything is smoothly combined. Take off the heat for 10 minutes.

When the cookies are cool, drizzle each one with a tablespoonful of chocolate glaze—it will help “glue” the sprinkles on in a minute. Use the back of the spoon to help spread the mixture, though an uneven dribbled look is part of their charm. After you’ve iced 6 cookies, scatter with some of the Christmas sprinkles and continue until all the cookies are topped. If you ice them all before sprinkling, you will find the cocoa “glue” has dried and the sprinkles won’t stick on.

From Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson.  Copyright © Nigella Lawson 2008. Photographs Copyright © Lis Parsons 2008. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Fastest Cinnamon Buns

August 22, 2009 By: kristi Category: Breakfast, Dessert

cinnamon rolls

These are too good to be true.

more rolls

Just looking at these makes me want to eat the whole batch.

Rolled out dough

As I tell my friend Caren, overindulgence and I battle frequently over sweets.

dough with cinnamon

Overindulgence is sitting next to me right now telling me to eat a cinnamon bun.  He’s a bad, bad influence.  Why must you tempt me?

rolled dough

I cannot give into him NOW.  I already had a cinnamon bun.  Ohhhh but they look so good.  I’ll just have a bite… or two.

buns in pan

No.  I must fight it.  I must.

buns

I did fight the urge to put the ooey, gooey cream cheese icing on top.  Okay, I’m lying.  I just didn’t have any cream cheese, but they didn’t need them…

Be ready to stir, roll, bake, and eat in a little over 30 minutes.

Fastest Cinnamon Buns

Source: Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe made by The Kitchen Sink

Makes 8 cinnamon buns

Ingredients:

For the Buns:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed (5 1/4 ounces) dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

For the glaze
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

For the Buns:
Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 425°F. Brush a round 9-inch nonstick cake pan with 1 tablespoon butter. Spray a wire cooling rack with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the brown sugar, 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon melted butter and stir with a fork or fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand; set the filling mixture aside.

Whisk together the flour, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons butter in a measuring cup. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed (the dough will look shaggy), about 30 seconds. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no longer shaggy about 30 seconds.

Pat the dough with your hands into a 12 by 9-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the brown sugar filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Press the filling firmly into the dough. Using a bench scraper or metal spatula, loosen the dough from the work surface. Starting at a long side, roll the dough, pressing lightly, to form a tight log. Pinch the seam to seal. Roll the log seam-side down and cut it evenly into 8 pieces. Turn the pieces over on their flat sides, and with your hand, slightly flatten each piece of dough to seal the open edges and keep the filling in place. Place 1 roll in the center of the prepared pan and then place the remaining 7 rolls around the perimeter of the pan. Brush the rolls with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

Bake until the edges are golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes. Use an offset metal spatula to loosen the buns from the pan. Wearing oven mitts, place a large plate over the pan and invert the buns onto the plate. Place the greased cooling rack over the plate and invert the buns onto the rack. Cool about 5 minutes before glazing.

For the glaze:
While the buns are cooling, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (for easy cleanup); set the rack with the buns on the baking sheet. Whisk the cream cheese and buttermilk in a large bowl until thick and smooth (the mixture will look like cottage cheese at first). Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the mixture and whisk until a smooth glaze forms’ about 30 seconds. Spoon the glaze evenly over the buns; serve immediately.