Saturday, April 24, 2010

100th Post

So you’ve just made your 100th post to The Messy Apron. What do you want, a cookie? Why, yes, thank you very much. I would like a cookie.

I just made a cake a little while ago to celebrate The Messy Apron’s first blog-aversary, so to celebrate 100 posts, I made cookies instead. But more about those delicious bites in just a moment. First of all, I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and list five of my favorite posts from the first 100. They’re favorites for a variety of reasons and I think they’re a reasonably representative sample of what goes from my messy kitchen out to you somewhere in the ether. I hope you like them too. Here they are, in no particular order.

Noodle Noir Part 1 and Part 2
Sure, these are technically two posts, but they tell one story, and some good ravioli got made. What could be bad about that?

The Omnivore’s Solution
This was my account of the fabulous lecture given at Winona State University by author Michael Pollan. I was so excited to be there, and I got to meet Pollan, too!

Hurrah for the Pumpkin Pie
Harry’s grandmama’s pumpkin pie. Need I even say more?

September Tomatoes
Just thinking of the Tomato and Beef Stir Fry in this post, not to mention the homegrown (by friends) heirloom tomatoes I used to make it, induces uncontrolled salivation. Too bad those great tomatoes are still months away! I can hardly wait to celebrate my love of good tomatoes with this recipe once again.

The Beet Goes On
Nearly as much as I love tomatoes, I hate beets. The recipe for Beet and Carrot Burgers in this post represents my first step in learning to love…or like…how about tolerate the humble beetroot.

Enough nostalgia. What about those cookies? These might not be the prettiest treats in the world, resembling mud pies more than something you might serve to the Queen with her tea. When you know that that muddy color comes from cocoa (there’s as much of it in this recipe as there is flour) and the sandy bits are ground toasted hazelnuts, these cookies suddenly become more appealing. And if you love chocolate and hazelnuts like I do, one bite through the coarse exterior into the dense, slightly chewy middle, and you’ll swear you’ll never judge a mud pie harshly again.

Peeling hazelnuts is a bit of a labor of love (I posted some detailed instructions on that here), but after that, this is a reasonably simple recipe. The dough comes together in minutes in the food processor. I recommend chilling the dough before forming it into cookies, because I think that improves just about any cookie (the dry ingredients get some time to absorb the wet ingredients better). Once you’re ready to bake, the mud pie resemblance is back. The dough needs to be squished together a bit to form the cookie disks and your clean hands are the very best tool for that job.

While all the mud pie references might bring you back to childhood, the hazelnut liqueur should bring you back out of it again (I hope!). The liqueur and a relatively small amount of butter are just about the only things holding these babies together, so I was skeptical before putting them in the oven. I thought that the cookies might be boozy, crumbly messes, but instead they were firm and chocolaty and nutty with lots of sweet cinnamon and just a hint of liqueur essence. Despite their lackluster appearance, these are definitely worthy of a celebration at least as important as your 100th food blog post. Here’s to hoping for a few hundred more (cookies or posts, whatever comes first)!

Chocolate Cinnamon Hazelnut Cookies
Based on a recipe in Gourmet magazine

Use cocoa powder that is not Dutch processed for these cookies.

1 ½ cups hazelnuts roasted, skinned and completely cooled (see this post for instructions)
¾ cup sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
¼ cup hazelnut liqueur (I use Frangelico)

1. Place the toasted and skinned hazelnuts, sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the hazelnuts are finely ground.
2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse sand with a few very small lumps of butter. Add the liqueur and process until the dough comes together, but is still crumbly. Cover and chill the dough for at least 1 hour.

3. When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 F. Lightly spray cookie sheets with cooking spray (or use oil or parchment paper). Squeeze and shape the dough into flattened balls roughly 1 ½ inches in diameter and about ½ inch thick. Place on baking sheet. You can put them as little as an inch apart, since the dough will not spread much while baking.

4. Bake at 325 F for 18 minutes. The cookies should look dry on the outside and not break apart if you gently press them. Remove from the oven and let stand on the pan about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Store leftovers in an airtight container with layers separated by wax paper.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Other recipes like this: Apricot and Almond Cookies with White Chocolate

One year ago: Earth Day tips for food lovers

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