Slice & Bake Almond Butter Cookies

More than a few of the recipes on this blog came about from me buying a kitchen gadget. It’s a minor obsession of mine. Sometimes this obsession can get pricey, but most times not so much (at least that’s how I always justify it to myself.)

These are one of the most recents buys I’ve made. I wanted it to see how they would work for molding slice & bake cookie dough.

Slice and Bake cookies are one of my go-tos for quick and easy batch desserts. They’re also versatile enough recipe to where there are a lot of different possibilities for ways to flavor/enhance them.

If I had any one complaint about Slice & Bakes as a recipe, it’s the shaping step. After mixing the cookie dough you shape it into a log and refrigerate it, after which you can ‘slice & bake’ as many cookies as you want. But as the dough log rests in the fridge, it typically rests on a flat surface, which flattens it out on the bottom and makes it harder to maintain that perfect cyndrilical shape. There’s no effect on the taste whatsoever, it’s just an aesthetic thing.

It’s probably the food blogger in me, but I like a nice presentation when it comes to baking especially, so I was interested in getting the molds not just for the sake of maintaining a consistent shape in cookie, but also being able to make square cookies that reminded me of the ones that come in the blue tins.

For my first go round with the molds, I kept things simple. Almond cookies are some of my favorite, so I decided to go with those. I did grind my almonds up fresh in my Ninja, with the skins on, as I think it adds more flavor. Using almond meal as opposed to almond flour also gives it a more robust texture.

The cookies themselves are buttery, crisp and the ground almonds and almond extract gives them that bakery-style flavor that I think pairs perfect with coffee or tea. They’d also make amazing Christmas cookie gifts. And because they’re slice and bake you don’t even have to bake them all at once. Regardless of whether you choose to get the mold or not, it’s a really good cookie.

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Slice & Bake Almond Butter Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Saveur

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of almond flour or meal
  • 3 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup white granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, almond flour/meal and salt. Set aside.

In another medium sized bowl use a handheld or standing mixer with paddle attachment to cream the butter and white sugar together until creamy. Add the extracts and mix until just combined.

Fold the flour in in 2 batches, mixing just until combined. Scrape the dough out of the bowl with a spatula and mold it into 2 long, rectangular logs .

Tightly wrap the logs in plastic wrap and shape into a square shape. (I used these molds, but using a bench scraper or the inside of a 13 x 9 baking dish works as well). If using the molds, press the plastic wrapped log into the molds, then refrigerate both overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Remove the logs from the molds and unwrap. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, slice cookies about 1/4 inch thick (or to your desired preference). Place about 1 inch apart on prepared pans and sprinkle tops with sugar. (Depending on how thick you cut them, this makes quite a few cookies; you’ll probably have to do this in a few batches)

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.

Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #438, co-hosted by Liz @ spades, spatulas & spoons.

Cornmeal Angel Biscuits

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m always testing out new biscuit recipes, to the point where there’s a pretty good collection of them to be found in the Index. You’ll also know that I have a huge appreciation for cornmeal as a baking ingredient, and as such, there’s a pretty sizable collection of cornmeal recipes to be found here too.

I love combining my favorite ingredients together in baking and seeing what happens, and that’s pretty much what today’s recipe is doing. This isn’t the first time I’ve made cornmeal biscuits on the blog, but it is the first time I applied the angel yeast roll technique to my go-to biscuit making process.

Angel yeast rolls are very akin to parker house butter rolls that are extremely rich, and yet extremely light in texture. The only possible way to improve them is to make them in biscuit form, something I’ve been aware of for a long time thanks to my grandmother. Combining the angel roll with the biscuit really comes down to incorporating yeast into the recipe. I don’t know who thought of it originally, but it was a really good idea.

My favorite thing about this recipe are all the different textures it has. My biscuit-making techniques do their job in make it flaky, but the yeast also comes in to give it a light, inner fluffy texture that normal biscuits typically don’t have. But then the cornmeal also comes through to give it a sturdy and robustness and flavor that’s just enough to give it a really pleasant chew.

These made amazing breakfast sandwiches, they also make for really good accompaniments to hearty stews or braises, and they’re yet another winning biscuit recipe to add to the arsenal.

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Cornmeal Angel Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water (about 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1/2 cup white sugar, divided
  • 8 cups all purpose flour, (plus more if needed)
  • 2 cups plain yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 cup cold vegetable shortening, frozen
  • 2 cups whole buttermilk (plus more if needed)

Directions

Pour warm water in to a medium bowl. Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the water, then sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the white sugar on top. Allow to proof for about 10 minutes, until frothy.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, corn meal, salt, baking soda, remaining sugar, and black pepper and stir with a fork.

Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the frozen butter and frozen shortening directly into the dry ingredients. Stir together until evenly combined.

Make a well in the center of the bowl. Pour in the buttermilk and stir together with the fork first, then use a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Use a bench scraper or a large knife to divide dough in half. Stack one half on top of each other, then roll into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a square cookie cutter, or a knife to cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each.

Remove the cut biscuits to the baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, placing them rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Freeze until cold, about 15 minutes.

Spray the tops of the biscuits with cooking spray, or brush with melted butter and place in oven.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. (You may need to cover them with foil to keep from browning too fast. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #437.

Peach Blueberry Crumble Tart

I almost always mark the arrival of summer by when I can start baking with stone fruit. I’ve said multiple times before that the taste of peaches always reminds me of summer, and although I love nectarines and red plums, peaches will always be my first choice to eat or bake. A little over a week ago, my grocery store finally started stocking peaches; so you guys all know what had to happen.

I don’t think summer baking needs to be super complicated. In the first place, it’s hot, so when/if you use it, you don’t really want the oven to be on any longer than necessary. In the second place, the fruit’s delicious enough to where it doesn’t need a lot of embellishment/fancy stuff done to it. Just keep things simple.

This is definitely one of those recipes that colors safely within the Keep it Simple lines. The ingredients are minimal, there’s very little embellishment given to them, and it comes together relatively quickly as well.

It starts out with a quick vanilla cinnamon crust that gets pressed down into the tart pan and pre-baked ahead of time, which prevents the bottom from becoming soggy from all of the lovely fruit juices. While the crust bakes, you can put together the other two components: the fruit filling, and the streusel topping.

As I say in the recipe itself, one of the best things about this dessert is its flexibility; meaning, the fruit itself can be swapped out for substitutions of whatever you have on hand, or whatever you prefer. Peaches are my first choice, but any other stone fruit will work as well. Similarly, if you’re not a fan of blueberries or don’t have any on hand, raspberries or blackberries or strawberries will work just as well.

The star of the streusel topping for me are the almonds. They add both flavor and texture that plays really well against the flavors and texture of the fruit.

This is a perfect dessert for a summer cookout. I wasn’t at one when I made it, but in case you’re reading this and need a dessert/to make and take along with you to one, look no further: this is the one you want.

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Peach Blueberry Crumble Tart

Recipe Adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients

For Tart/Crust

  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries*
  • 2 cups fresh sliced peaches*
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

For Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup, firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs. chopped raw almonds

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a a 9-in. fluted tart pan with removable bottomm cooking spray and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix flour, sugar and cinnamon; stir in butter and the 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract just until blended and dough clumps together. (If it’s still too dry and you need to add in a tablespoon or so of water, that’s fine.)

Use your hands to press the dough into tart pan, making sure it’s evenly spread/layered to the edges.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine blueberries, peaches, honey and extracts; toss to coat.

For streusel topping: in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and almond extract and stir until the mixture is crumbly, with some large chunks remaining. Stir in the almonds.
Spoon fruit mixture into crust; Sprinkle the streusel on top.

Bake at 350° 45-50 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack at least 15 minutes before serving.

* Note: the peaches can be swapped out for any other stone fruit (nectarines, plums, even apricots) and the blueberries can be swapped out for any other berry.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #436.

Honey Curry Chicken

When I was first learning how to cook,(about 10-11 years ago–yeesh) my mom gave me some advice that is still helping me to this day: get really comfortable good at making a handful of dishes so that you can put your own spin on them, and always have a ready meal to ‘whip’ out at and make at a moment’s notice.

I took the advice, and it’s served me very well. Like a lot of home cooks, I too now have a list of ‘go-to’/’old faithful’ recipes that I depend upon and keep in a regular rotation just because #1, They come together pretty easily, #2, They’re pretty popular with the crowd I’m feeding, #3 I’ve made them enough times to where I can put my own spin on them to the point where I don’t really need the recipe anymore, and it’s just more for occasional reminders when certain things slip my mind.

I’ve shared most of those recipes on the blog already, and today I’m sharing another one. Like the majority of the others, it’s chicken breast (which we prefer) as it’s generally inexpensive and so far as proteins go, also pretty good for you. It’s also very much one of those ‘blank canvas’ ingredients that can be adapted for a number of different cuisines.

I hope I don’t piss any purists off by what I decided to call this recipe. I do recognize that a true/traditional curry from pretty much any cuisine takes hours to make and has a long ingredient list of fresh spices. I admit right off rip that this is very much a quick, nontraditional, ‘shortcut’ to a curry. I use jarred, pre-ground curry powder, and from start to finish, it probably doesn’t take much longer than 2 hours to put together.

But, whether you think it should be called a curry or not, it is good.

The honey and the soy sauce are a really great salty-sweet offset to the bite of the spices, and as it cooks, then sits, the flavors get even better. This is far from a conventional curry, both in the method and the ingredients, but they do work well together, and it’s relatively easy to make–thus explaining why it’s now in our regular rotation.

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Honey Curry Chicken

Recipe by Jess@CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 4-6 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into medium sized (about 2 inches) cubes
  • 2 large sweet onions
  • 2 cups, plus 1/3 cup flour, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of your favorite multi-purpose seasoning (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Saute)
  • 40 ounces of chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2/3 cup melted butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 4 tbsp honey dijon mustard
  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Divide the cubed chicken into two 1 gallon sized plastic bags.

In a medium size bowl combine 2 cups of the flour with the multi purpose seasoning and stir together with a fork.

Evenly divide the flour mixture between the two ziploc bags. Seal tightly, then toss to coat thoroughly, so that there is an even layer over meat.

Coat the bottom of a large non-stick stockpot or Dutch Oven with a few tablespoons of canola, vegetable or olive oil. Brown the floured meat over high heat on the stovetop. Don’t worry about it cooking all the way through, just cook long enough to give it some color. When it’s browned, temporarily move the meat to a sheet pan. Don’t overcrowd the pot, you’ll have to repeat/do this in about 2-3 batches to get through all of the meat.

When you’re finished browning the meat, add a little bit more oil to the pot, then add the onions. Cook over medium heat until they’re softened and translucent, 5-10 minutes. Remove the onions from the pot and place them with the browned chicken.

Add about 1/3 cup of flour to the pot/Dutch oven. Stir with a whisk over low-medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, just until you can smell the flour begin to toast.

Pour in the chicken broth, bay leaves, melted butter, honey, soy sauce, honey mustard and the spices.Use a wire whisk to stir, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook for about 20 minutes, tasting and adjusting for seasoning (but also keep in mind, it’s going to develop even more flavor in the oven, so it’s okay if it doesn’t taste perfect just yet).

Spray an 11×13 and an 8 x 8 baking dish with cooking spray. Place the browned chicken and the onions in the dish in an even layer.

When the curry sauce has reached your taste level, ladle it over the chicken so that is is at least half-submerged. (You’ll have extra broth leftover, this is fine) Cover the baking dishes tightly with foil.

Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until the chicken can be easily pulled apart with a fork.

Serve over white or brown rice.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #435.