Chocolate Chip Palmiers

Palmiers are so versatile...savory or sweet. Easy to make, impossible to mess up and best of all: fast. Mostly, I prefer savory palmiers. The choices for fillings are everywhere online if you need guidance, but use your imagination. I serve them frequently with cocktails.
I've only made sweet palmiers once before, last fall: the apple cinnamon version.  We have to be careful in Florida as palmiers don't like humidity much so it's best to serve them fairly quickly after you make them. Certainly the same day. At any rate, I saw this chocolate chip idea on Pinterest (forgot to write down whose) and thought I'd make them. Using Ina Garten's basic sweet palmier recipe but adding mini chocolate chips, you'll find these a big hit...everyone will love this crunchy, sticky cookie with the little bits of chocolate hiding in the swirls.

Chocolate Chip Palmiers

2 cups granulated sugar
dash kosher salt
2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted in fridge overnight
1/3 cup or so mini chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray it with cooking spray.

Spread 1 cup sugar on a flat surface, the size of your puff pastry. Place the pastry sheet on top of the sugar. Sprinkle generously with sugar (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup) Use a rolling pin to roll the pastry gently. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and with your fingers, press them into the puff pastry. 

Fold the short ends over about halfway to the center. Fold them over again, so that the two folds meet in the center of the pastry sheet. Gently fold one side over the other, so when you look at the end, it looks like an oblong heart. Slice the cookies about 3/4 of an inch thick and place on your cookie sheet.  Repeat with other sheet of puff pastry.
Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully turn them over. Use a metal spatula and remember how hot melted sugar is. Bake an additional 6-8 minutes, until the bottoms are as browned as the tops. Let sit for a minute and then remove to cool completely.


Hot Cross Buns

 Happy Easter!

You'll find many Easter tables include a basketful of hot cross buns, with their symbolic crosses. Usually the cross is made with a confectioners sugar glaze, but this recipe uses pie pastry; unusual, but it's a clever idea and the buns are plenty sweet enough without the confectioners sugar cross because of the egg and sugar glaze. I've made quite a few hot cross buns, but this recipe beats them all. Sweet, buttery and chock full of currants and raisins. Your family will love them!

You can make these ahead and freeze. Just reheat. And the buns are delicious sliced and toasted in the morning. This recipe makes 24 buns.

Hot Cross Buns

1 cup warm milk (105°–115°F.)
two 1/4-ounce packages (5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup dried currants
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
pastry dough (hopefully you have some left over in the freezer)

In a small bowl stir together warmed milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Let mixture stand 5 minutes, or until foamy.
Into a large bowl sift together flour, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cut butter into bits and blend into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. (I used my fingers.)
Beat 1 whole egg with an egg yolk. Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in yeast and egg mixtures, currants, raisins, and zests. Stir mixture until a dough is formed. Transfer dough to a floured surface and with floured hands knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (I  put the dough in my mixer with a dough hook.) Transfer dough to an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Let dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Butter 2 large baking sheets. (I used parchment paper.)
On a floured surface with floured hands form into two 12-inch-long logs. Cut each log crosswise into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and arrange about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Let buns rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
While buns are rising, lightly beat remaining egg with superfine sugar to make an egg glaze. 

For the pastry crosses: On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll out pastry dough into a 20- by 6-inch rectangle (about 1/8 inch thick). With a sharp knife cut rectangle crosswise into 1/8-inch- wide strips.

Brush buns with egg glaze and arrange 2 pastry strips over center of each bun to form a cross. Trim ends of pastry strips flush with bottoms of buns. Bake buns in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 12 minutes. Transfer buns to a rack to cool slightly. Buns may be made 1 week ahead and frozen, wrapped in foil and put in a plastic bag. Thaw buns and reheat before serving. 


Irish Coffee Cheesecake Squares

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I've been saving this since I saw it on Sue's blog. Love the flavors and if you have time, be sure to click the link for making your own Irish Cream. Makes all the difference.

Irish Coffee Cheesecake Squares

From The View From the Great Island

For the crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
pinch salt

For the filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Homemade Irish Cream
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (I use THIS
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
sweetened whipped cream
shaved chocolate

Set oven to 350F
Cream the butter and sugar and then blend in the flour and salt until the mixture is crumbly. Pat into a buttered 9 x 13 pan, pressing down slightly with your fingers to get an even layer.
Bake for 15 minutes.
For the filling: cream the cream cheese and sugar together. Make sure your ingredients are at true room temperature to avoid a lumpy batter.
Beat in the homemade Irish Cream, and then the eggs, one at a time.
Blend in the instant espresso, cocoa powder, vanilla, and flour.
Turn the batter out onto the crust and smooth out evenly.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes just until the cheesecake is set.
Let cool before slicing.
Serve with whipped cream, and garnish with shaved chocolate.


Whole Lemon Bars

Not another lemon bar recipe! But yes, and I hope you'll give it a try. This is the second citrus recipe I've made recently that included the rind in the ingredients. (Please use organic citrus; wash it well.) These bars were originally a David Lebovitz recipe; Pastry Studio made some adaptations and commented on her pleasure of the pucker quality of these bars, especially when you're used to the old fashioned (and quite sweet) lemon bars. I liked them too, pucker and all, and found the slight texture in them interesting as well. You can use either crust...I included both Pastry Studio's almond crust, which I used here, and the Lebovitz crust which is what you're more accustomed to seeing.
These are definitely not your generic lemon bars!

Whole Lemon Bars
From :Pastry Studio, adapted from David Lebovitz

Ingredients for the crust:
(David's Crust)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 oz (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

(Pastry Studio's Almond Crust, used in this recipe)

1 cup flour
1/4 cup  toasted sliced almonds
3 tablespoons sugar 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
4 oz (8 tablespoons) cold butter cut into 1/2" pieces
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

Ingredients for the filling:
1 large or 2 small - medium lemons (6 oz)
1 cup  sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon  cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 oz (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease an 8" square pan and line with parchment with a slight overhang on two sides.

For David's pastry crust:, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt until combined.  Add the melted butter and vanilla and stir with a fork just until smooth.  Press into the bottom of the pan, distributing the dough as evenly as possible.
For :pastry studio's crust: put flour, almonds, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process to combine.  Add the cold butter (cut into 1/2" pieces) and pulse just until the mixture looks like coarse meal.  Add egg yolk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and process until the dough just starts to clump.  Press evenly into prepared pan.

Bake the crust until it's golden brown, about 25 minutes. 

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degree F. 

For the filling
Cut the lemon/lemons in half and remove the seeds.  Cut the lemon into smaller chunks and place them in the bowl of a food processor or blender along with the sugar and lemon juice.  Process until the lemon is finely chopped.  Add the eggs, cornstarch, salt and melted butter and blend until almost smooth.

Pour the lemon filling over the hot crust and bake for 25 minutes or just until the filling stops jiggling and is barely set.  Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely. 

Carefully lift and remove the cooled pastry from the pan using the parchment overhang to assist.  Cut the bars into squares or rectangles and sift powdered sugar over the top just before serving.


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