Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies

I had never tried a baking emulsion until last week. One of my best baking/blogging friends sent me a bottle of lemon emulsion and I really want to try it, but I am waiting for warmer, Springier, more lemony type, weather. So with my curiosity about baking emulsions piqued and an extra twenty dollars floating around my bag, I ran into Home Goods (because of it’s reputation for carrying a wide assortment of discounted baking emulsions) to see what I could find. I didn’t hit the jackpot, but the trip was worthwhile. I found a bottle of vanilla bean paste (another thing I have been meaning to try) and almond emulsion.

When I got home, I opened the bottle of almond emulsion- just to smell it- and it reminded me of something I haven’t thought about in years. Amaretto. Back in my college, just starting to discover alcohol, but not sophisticated enough to try something that doesn’t taste like dessert days, one of my favorites was Amaretto and cream. I know- I’m trying not to think about how many calories I consumed in an average night. But there is something about the memory of that flavor that I wanted to try to capture in an actual dessert (now that I focus on EATING my calories instead of DRINKING them). And there is something about approaching Valentines Day that makes me want to cover the whole thing in chocolate.

Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies (Ellie's Bites)So- firstly: is the picture a little busy? I got carried away with the Valentines features on PicMonkey (almost carried away enough to sign up for the paid package). Secondly: I’m going to share the recipe I used,because it tasted REALLY good, however something happened in the baking process which caused the surface to bump and crack a little. I’m not sure what it was and I’ll play around a little the next time I can make cookies for fun and see if I can find the issue. Since they are covered in chocolate, the surface of the cookie didn’t matter much. In fact, I also used some cookies from this batch for a few upcoming projects and the surface didn’t even effect the royal icing. SO it might not even matter.

Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies (adapted from LilaLoa’s Vanilla Variation)

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter- room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 1 tsp almond emulsion
  • 2 large eggs-room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips (or semisweet chocolate finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup almonds (finely chopped in a food processor)
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries (cut into small pieces)
  1. Preheat oven to 375F, line your baking sheets with parchment
  2. In a standing mixer, beat the butter until it is soft- scrape the sides of the bowl if needed
  3. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy
  4. Add the vanilla and almond emulsion, then add each egg beating between additions
  5. Add baking powder and salt, mix until combined
  6. Add flour- one cup at a time and mix until combined.
  7. Using about a quarter of the dough at a time, knead the dough until a smooth ball forms (you may need to coat your surface with a bit of flour, but the dough shouldn’t be too sticky). Roll out the dough to 3/8 inch and cut out your shapes.
  8. Bake for about 9-12 minutes depending on your oven. I checked after nine and needed another 1 1/2.
  9. When the cookies are finished, take them out of the oven and immediately sprinkle with about 1 tbsp chocolate chips (depending on the size of your shape)
  10. Let the chocolate sit for about 2-3 minutes until it starts to melt then use an off set spatula to spread the chocolate.
  11. Immediately drop on some cherries and chopped almonds.
  12. Let the cookie sit until the chocolate hardens and the cookie cools completely.

Chocolate Cherry Almond cookies Collage

If you let these sit for a day or two, in an airtight container, the cookie will get really soft and the flavors of the chocolate, cherry, and almond will marry. In this case, it’s okay to have a marriage of three.

Chocolate Almond Cherry Cookies (Ellie's Bites)

Yes, that heart bokeh is one of the PicMonkey effects.

 Simply Sweets by Honeybee

Love Song Cookies

Out of all the Christmas cookies I made this year these were, I think, my favorite. In fact I think they may have been my favorites of 2012. If not my favorite- definitely in the top ten. What I loved about them, is how pretty they looked with one base color and a song piped on in the same color. (Did that make sense? It is so loud in my house right now, I can’t hear myself think!) Any way, of course it was simple enough to redo them for Valentines Day using love songs instead of Christmas songs.

While searching iTunes for some of my favorite love songs, I was surprised to find myself going back to The Beatles over and over.

Beatles Valentines Cookies (Ellie's Bites)

 

I had also, while playing around with no real idea in my head, cut out a large heart cookie and a smaller puzzle piece heart from the middle. I was trying to decide how to decorate this, and every time I looked at the smaller heart, I kept thinking to myself, “what should I do with this little piece of the heart?” Now, baby…

Janis Joplin Valentine Cookies (Ellie's Bites)

 

Haha, it is so loud in here right now. Ellie is home from school for MLK Day and Bryan is home with her since I have to go into work in an hour. They’re playing Monopoly Jr. and Ellie is slowly dominating the board. She has a whole song and dance routine going every time she gets a property or he lands on one of hers. It’s seriously these moments that remind me how lucky I really am.

Love Cookies

Oh, hand cutting. Most people hate it. I actually find that it gives me freedom to make a shape that I want rather than trying to find or make a cutter that would work, especially if it’s something I’m only going to use once. Don’t get me wrong, my cookie cutter collection takes up a wall of my dining room. But my most important cookie tool is a sharp knife.

To make these cookies, I printed out the word “LOVE” in my favorite font- Cast Iron. I cut out the letters and traced around them with a knife. Then I decorated them.

Love in Cast Iron Font (Ellie's Bites)

Cutting out your own cookies gives you the freedom to choose your size and make any design adjustments easily.

While I’m on the subject of cookie cutters, though. A few weeks ago, I was feeling down. My husband took my daughter out for a bit and while they were out they stopped to pick up a little gift to cheer me up. My husband remembered that I had wanted a candy thermometer (making my own marshmallows has been on my to-do list for the past few years- lack of candy thermometer has been my excuse). While they were at Sur La Table, Ellie picked up a cookie cutter she insisted I “NEEDED”. So I made her a special love cookie using her cutter.

Love and Seashell (Ellie's Bites)What she didn’t know is that I DID have that cutter already, but I had warped it a few years ago to make Big Bird for the first set of cookies I ever blogged about.  Just do me a favor and DO NOT visit that link. I’ll curl up from embarrassment!

Speaking of marshmallows, I have to mention that Ben calls them “mee-mows”. That’s all.

I’m linking up to my friend Melissa’s new series at Simply Sweets by Honeybee.

 Simply Sweets by Honeybee

Inspiration Challenge: January {New Year/ New You}

Good morning everyone! I hope you spent your New Years Eve doing exactly what you wanted to be doing! As for us, I know no matter how late I go to bed, my kids will still be up around 7am. So I’ll save the partying til 2AM thing until Ben is either potty trained or I can teach Ellie to change his diaper and pour them both a bowl of cereal. And let me sleep in!

January’s challenge wasn’t really about finding inspiration in something around you. It was more about finding the inspiration in yourself. Trying something new. Not caring if it actually worked or not, just crossing something off of your list.

With the week off, and no obligations, I found myself trying a few new things, other than the one I had planned for this post. Of course, I didn’t bother photographing them, so I don’t have any evidence. But I can tell you- the apple cider caramels (from The Smitten Kitchen) were a big success. The pink macarons- big opposite of success. Then again I wasn’t expecting much when I got the recipe I used by Googling “easy french macaron recipe”. Chances are if it’s “easy”, it’s not going to turn into a french macaron. They tasted good though, and in the end, that’s what matters.

For my challenge cookie, I decided to try a stained glass cookie. It’s something I have seen many times, but had never thought to make. I bought a bag of Jolly Ranchers (I think it was Wild Berry Fruit Flavors) and sorted the candies by color. Then I pulverized the candy in a food processor. I rolled out the cookies, cutting out a shape in the middle and sprinkled some of the pulverized candy into the hole in the cookie. Then I baked and decorated as usual.

New Years 2013 (Ellie's Bites)

Using the blue candy, I kept thinking how much it looked like the surface of a pool, and another idea evolved.

Koi Pond Collage (Ellie's Bites)

I baked an oval and base coated it in white icing. When that dried, I painted a bunch of blue and green swirls and some vaguely fishy shapes in yellow, orange, and a bit of gold disco dust. I also baked two oval rings and filled one with the melted candy. The other I iced in a white stone patter, then painted with shades of grey and piped on green vines. The flowers are flower shaped sprinkles with orange centers painted on. When all three components were dry, I stacked them.

Koi Pond (Ellie's Bites)

So now go check out Melissa’s post over at Simply Sweets by Honeybee and see how much fun she had trying a new technique. And don’t forget to link up your own experience there. Then next month, in honor of Valentines Day, we’ll be finding inspiration in romance and famous couples. Who will you choose for your inspiration?