chewy chocolate ginger orange cookies

Chewy Chocolate Ginger Orange Cookies

 

The holidays always mean time for baking. My favorite cookie to bake and eat every year was the cover cookie from Martha Stewart’s Cookie book. I made them for a few years following every instruction to the letter. Then came some inspiration and my new recipe that is inspired by Martha. Thanks Martha, I like to believe you would be proud of my change.

It isn’t a drastic change I simply added a little orange zest, because orange goes great with ginger, and because orange goes great with chocolate. It was a small leap that orange, ginger and chocolate would make a great trio. These  are a huge hit every year and never last long at our house.

When I saw the badge for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap on my  friend Susannah’s blog, Feast+West, I knew I had to participate and exactly which cookies I would be making. It was a blast. I will definitely be doing it again next year. A great bonus to the cookies was that the $4 I spent to participate went to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.

I want to thank Confections + Coffee, The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie and The Baker Upstairs for the delicious cookies they sent. You can find their cookies on their blogs and you can find a roundup of all the cookies on the blogs of the masterminds behind this great swap; Love and Olive Oil or The Little Kitchen, this Friday.

chewy chocolate ginger orange cookies

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 1/2 culs plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks; set aside. Sift flour, cocoa and spices together and set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer, beat butter, grated ginger and orange zest until light and combined. Add brown sugar and beat until combined
  3. Add molasses and beat until combined
  4. In a small bowl dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoon of boiling water
  5. Mix flour mixture into butter mixture then add baking soda mixture and mix until combined
  6. Stir in chocolate pieces by hand
  7. Put dough on plastic wrap and make a patty about 1 inch thick. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
  8. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; roll balls in sugar and bake until surface of the cookie is slightly cracked, approximately 10-12 minutes.
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how to cook a turkey in 90 minutes

how to cook a turkey in 90 minutesI love the idea of Thanksgiving but I hate the stress of trying to figure out how to get everything on the table at the same time. In years past I have been really bad at it. I am going to blame part of it on the cheap oven in the house I was renting. I was always so stressed by the end of cooking that I didn’t enjoy the meal. After an entire day in the kitchen you should at least enjoy the meal you cooked!

I solved both problems this year.

Dinner was on the table at the same time, I wasn’t stressed and enjoyed the whole meal!

We are still staying at my parents so I had the use of their double ovens and I slightly deconstructed the bird so it only took 90 minutes to cook.

No joke it was 90 minutes in the oven and 30 minutes resting to get our Thanksgiving bird on our plates. The double oven also helped immensely by allowing me to cook a lot of dishes at the same time.

Maybe you think there is a catch to cooking a turkey in 90 minutes, but I assure you there is not. It is a simple process called spatchcocking. If you have been reading the blog for a while you have already seen my love for this method. I have covered a chicken in proscuitto and cooked one on the grill, both with amazing results.

The reason you can cook a turkey in 90 minutes is you remove the backbone and flatten the bird which provides more surface area and a faster cooking time. See, no catch and it isn’t even that complicated. Though I admit it sounds intimidating at first.

Here is how you do it:

  1. With a good pair of kitchen shears it is extremely easy to remove the backbone. Simply cut down both sides of the backbone with a little force. As a bonus if you keep the backbone you can add it to the neck and giblets and make stock later in the week.
  2. Once you have the backbone removed flip the bird over on a cutting board and press down hard on the breast bone to break it and flatten the bird.
  3. Let the turkey sit on the counter for 30 minutes
  4. Meanwhile, prepare your roasting rack by putting a cut up onion, 4 carrots and 4 celery stalks in the bottom. Add some sage, rosemary, thyme and a little garlic. Add a cup of water or broth to the pan and place the turkey on top. You can either put it on a rack or directly on top of the veggies.
  5. Salt and pepper the bird and drizzle olive oil over the bird and rub it in.
  6. Place the bird in the oven and cook for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. After 30 minutes reduce the heat to 350 and cook until an insta-read thermometer reads 165 degrees, about an hour longer.
  7. While the bird is cooking at 350 degrees baste the bird every 20 minutes with a little more olive oil.
  8. Remove the bird from the oven when done, tent with foil and let it rest for 30 minutes. This 3o minute resting time will allow you to get one more dish in the oven.
  9. To carve, remove the legs and thighs and then carve the breast as you would if it was a whole bird.

If you need pictures or videos here are some links that will take the fear out of spatchcocking.
How to spatchcock a turkey -Bon Appetit I used their cooking method for my turkey and it worked well. I don’t love the way they carve the turkey breast because I like my pieces thin and ready for sandwiches
How to spatchcock a turkey-Martha Stewart No videos in this one, but the detailed pictures are very helpful.
How to spatchcock a turkey-Mark Bittman He says it takes 45 minutes which seems a little unbelievable but I had a bigger bird than he did, so maybe. He doesn’t mention a lot of details on cooking time in the video but you can find those on his recipe posted on Serious Eats.

I would love for you to share your favorite turkey story with me in the comments.

how to throw a gingerbread house decorating party

gingerbread houses and throwing a gingerbread house decorating party

Gingerbread house decorating is a fun holiday tradition for all ages. For as long as I can remember we have been decorating gingerbread houses. We started when I was little and gave them as gifts to our teachers and neighbors. My mom was a superstar and would make large and small versions. She was the first to throw a gingerbread house decorating party and years later I carried on the idea and it was always a huge hit.

The recipe we use originally ran in a newspaper in 1979 and was intended as a microwave recipe. Not being a huge microwave fan my mom adapted the recipe and baked them in the oven.

The dough is super simple to make and takes very little time to bake. The assembly is where the time and patience come in. Making a good thick icing is the key to this being a less stressful process. Make sure your egg whites are beaten until stiff or you will have a runny icing that is better for cookie decorating than the mortar that will hold up your walls. The sides of you pieces should come out fairly straight but they do not need to be perfect. A slightly off piece will still work so don’t stress out or waste a less than perfect piece.

Once you have your pieces baked and they have cooled you can start assembly. A small piece of styrofoam is the sturdiest base, but you can use corrugated cardboard covered in aluminum foil if you want to save some money. The styrofoam runs about $5 a piece. If you purchase a large piece and cut it to the size you want you can save some money as well. My mom’s tip: if the sides of styrofoam are rough from the cut rub them together and it will work like sandpaper to smooth them out.

gingerbread houses | wit wisdom & food

Dip the bottom of the end pieces in icing and spread a small amount on the back of the piece where the sides will touch. Dip the sides and bottom of the side pieces in the icing and attach. Use toothpicks to prop up the pieces as the icing dries. I would allow 20 minutes but check on it sooner and see if it has set.

gingerbread house recipe & template | wit wisdom & food

After you have the walls set it is time to raise the roof. This is a little more challenging because you are up against gravity, hence my large use of toothpicks. Paint the back of the roof where it will touch the sides of the end pieces. The thicker you made that icing the better off you will be. I was so rusty when I made this batch that it took a long time to set and was really trying on my patience. The toothpicks weren’t enough support so I had to sit and hold the roof in place until it set enough.

gingerbread house recipe & template | wit wisdom & foodNow that your roof is set up and the icing is dry it is time to get to decorating. There are no rules just go with it. Unleash your inner child and get to work making your masterpiece. This really isn’t a beauty contest, as you will see in my last picture, it is meant as a fun holiday activity so don’t worry about splatters and drips of icing. Just let it go or cover it with a piece of candy.

gingerbread house recipe & template | wit wisdom & food

Once you have finished decorating it is time to play mother nature and bring in a little snow storm. Grab a knife or whisk and dip it in your icing and drizzle it over the house. If your icing doesn’t drizzle well add a little bit of water to the icing to thin it out just enough to drizzle easier.

Remember I was talking about how important it is to make sure your icing is thick so it will hold things up? That star anise “wreath” above my door is the perfect example. I tried holding it, blowing on it and every combination in between to get it to stick. My patience was no match for gravity and the result is a house that is likely the worst house on the block. I dreaded sharing this but here it is flaws and all. Otherwise, I thought my family of snowmen looked very happy at their little home.
gingerbread house recipe & template | wit wisdom & food

How to throw your own Gingerbread decorating party

Weeks before the party

  • Make your guest list. The easiest way to have multiple people decorate houses is to make and assemble the houses before your guests arrive. So be realistic with your guest list and think about asking couples to collaborate.
  • Send out your invitations and ask each person to bring at least one bag of candy to share
  • Bake the gingerbread you need to make the houses. You should get at least 6 houses out of a batch
  • See if any of your guests have a mixer they can bring to help with mid-party icing prep

Day (or a few days) Before

  • Get some decorating essentials like M&M’s, hard candies, kisses and gumdrops in case your guests forget to bring a bag
  • Grab some plastic knives for icing spreading
  • Buy cartons of egg whites. This will speed up icing making by eliminating the step of separating egg whites.
  • Buy more powder sugar than you think you will need. It stinks to run out of icing in the middle of decorating.
  • Make chili, stew or any large quantity, easy to reheat dish

Day of Set up

  • Cover your table with newspaper to make clean up easier and set a house at every seat
  • Place small paper bowls on the table to fill with candy
  • Set whatever decorating supplies you bought in the middle of the table
  • Reheat the dinner before your guests arrive

During the party

  • Make the icing. Because it dries out so quickly you will need to make it at the last minute. One batch of icing should cover 2-3 houses
  • Put a small bowl of icing and a plastic knife next to each house
  • Depending on how many mixers you are using you might need to replenish the icing throughout the night

Click on the image below to download the template and recipe

gingerbread house template | wit wisdom & food

 

I am linking this up to Dare to DIY, the link party that got me back into blogging two years ago. These are some of my favorite DIY bloggers. I hope you click over and enjoy some of the other projects.