Peppermint Mocha Cookies

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Welcome to day one of my Week of Christmas Cookies! Like most of my mornings, it just seemed right to start it off with a coffee kick.


You know it’s the holiday season when Starbucks rolls out their red cups and special holiday drinks. I probably get a little too excited about it, to be honest. The excitement that comes over me as I take my first sip of a hot Peppermint Mocha is shameful. It’s probably only second to Pumpkin Spice. Am I the only one that can’t imagine a Target Christmas shopping spree without a Peppermint Mocha in my hand?


After deciding to include a Peppermint Mocha cookie in my week long feature, I started an online search for recipes already floating around out there. Some of them looked good, but none of them had everything I was looking for. I wanted the cookie to have a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate quality, with a hint of coffee and cool peppermint finish. I also didn’t really want to use candy canes IN the cookie. So I had to adapt a recipe I already have.

My first attempt was a flop. I tried using chopped up York peppermint patties, but they melted and spread and the cookies weren’t really cookies as much as they were melty dough patties. Not wanting to stick a peppermint patty in the middle of my cookie, I had to go a different route. Attempt number two was a total SCORE, to say the least. They hit all of my criteria and then some.


Peppermint Mocha Cookies

Ingredients

8-ounces Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp real peppermint extract
1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 Tbsp flour
2 1/2 Tbsp espresso powder (instant espresso, found in the coffee aisle at my grocery store)
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a microwave safe glass bowl, microwave the semi-sweet chocolate for 1 minute on high power. Remove from the microwave and stir, continuing heating in 20 second increments until it can be stirred smooth. (Mine took 2 minutes total) While the chocolate is melting, sift together the flour, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. To the melted chocolate, add the butter, brown sugar, and eggs, stir until blended then stir in the peppermint extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Finally, add the chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop, place dough 2-inches apart on the cookie sheet*. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until the tops no longer look wet. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute, while cooling garnish with crushed candy canes, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

*Do NOT chill the dough in the fridge. It will look wet, like it will spread and make a mess, but it won’t. Chilling will make the cookies more tough and less visually appealing. Spoken from experience.

Adapted from The Cookie Bible

Salted Herb Roasted Turkey

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If you’re still on the fence about how to prepare your turkey this weekend, then stop right here. This turkey doesn’t require any special bags or a sanitized cooler. Just a nice coating of salt and herbs and an overnight chill in the fridge. I’ve never brined a turkey, so it’s tough for me to give an honest comparison. But I can honestly tell you that with results like this, it’s unlikely that I ever will go through the trouble. This turkey is just too good.

Salted Herb Roasted Turkey

Ingredients
Overnight salt mix:
6 Tbsp coarse kosher salt (4 tablespoons if finer-grained kosher salt)
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 Tbsp fresh sage, minced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 small bay leaves, coarsely torn
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp finely grated lemon peel

Turkey:
1 14- to 16-pound turkey (make sure to remove all the icky stuff inside!)
1 large onion, cut into large chunks
1 large celery stalk, cut into large chunks
1 whole lemon, cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups broth

Directions
Combine all of the ingredients for the salt, set aside.

Rinse the turkey inside and out, but do not pat dry. Coat the turkey inside (both cavities) and out. Use your fingers to loosen the skin over the breast and carefully rubs some of the salt under the skin. Place the turkey on a large plate (preferably with a lip to keep any loose juices on the plate and not on your fridge) and cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the turkey inside and out; pat very, very, dry (I also set it on top of a wad of paper towels for about 15 minutes). Rub some of the butter on the inside of cavities then divide the onion, celery, lemon, and herbs between the cavities. Truss the turkey (tie the legs together and wings in with cooking twine).Rub the rest of the butter on the outside of the turkey, getting under the breast skin as well. Place the turkey, breast side down, in a roasting pan, using extra carrots and celery to keep the turkey off the bottom of the pan if you don’t have a rack in your roasting pan. Pour the broth into the bottom of the pan.

Roast at 425 for 45 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven, then use wads of paper towels to flip the turkey breast side up. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees. Continue to roast turkey until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees, 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours longers (my 16 pound turkey took another 2 1/2, but keep an eye on it). 3 times during roasting, carefully baste the turkey with drippings and then quickly close the oven door again.

Tent the turkey with foil for 30-45 minutes before carving and serving.

Adapted from Epicurious (Bon Apetit) as seen on The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Me carving the turkey in my messy kitchen

One last thing. The family I work for is out of town for Thanksgiving, and tonight as I was writing this post I got a text. It was a picture of food that the youngest took. I told her I would put it on my blog so here it is. And can I just say I’ve taught her well? Look at that plate presentation (and no, that’s not her glass of wine).

Red, White and Blue Cupcakes!

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

Lately I have seen a lot of “tie dye” cupcakes in the food blogging world and I always think they are so cool looking. I remember the first time I saw them I knew that I was going to have to make them! So I didn’t have to brain storm for very long to decide what I wanted to make for the 4th of July. I have to say that I am very very pleased with the results! They turned out even cuter than I had hoped for. So if you are looking for an impressive treat for your 4th of July celebration, look no further. 🙂

Red, White and Blue Cupcakes

Supplies/Ingredients
White cake batter (I used the Wilton recipe below but don’t feel bad if you just grab a box of white cake mix from the grocery!)
Red Food Coloring
Blue Food Coloring
3 bowls (1 for each color)
Buttercream Frosting
Red, White and Blue Sprinkles

Directions
Prepare the cake batter as directed.

Divide the batter into 3 bowls. Leave one bowl white. Add 3-4 drops of red food coloring to another bowl and 3-4 drops of blue food coloring in another. Mix the food coloring in and add more if the colors are not bright enough.

Prepare a cupcake pan with liners. Start by dropping a spoonful of white batter into the bottom of each liner. Follow with a spoonful of blue. If you want you can go back with a toothpick and swirl the colors a little bit, just be careful not to “stir” the batter because the colors will blend). After the blue do a drop of white in each. Then a spoonful of red. Finish with small drops of each color on top.

Bake according to cake batter recipe.

Top each cupcake with buttercream frosting and sprinkles.

Classic White Cake – I cut the recipe in half and below I’ve listed the measurements I used
(Source: Wilton Website)

Ingredients

3 cups cake flour sifted
1 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 cups butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2cups granulated sugar
1cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 egg whites

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare cupcake pans with cupcake liners (24)

Sift together flour and baking powder. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Set aside. Beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Set aside. With mixer at slow speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternately with milk. Beat well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Gently fold egg whites into batter. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.