Nutella Butter Cookies Covered in Powdered Sugar

Baking, Dessert

Nutella Cookies by Tiny Chili Pepper

A conversation with a friend about Christmas season and baking:

Me: “So Lindsay, we always have good conversations about history, tradition, and culture. Question for you. Do you think there’s a traditional connection between Christmas season and baking, cookies especially? Seems like many people get into this intensified baking mode this time of year.”

Lindsay: “I have no idea if the two are traditionally linked, but they were in my family. My mother would often make sugar cookies and almond sugar cookies. Plus, I’ve always lived in a cold climate, so baking gives an excuse to turn on the oven! It’s also a cheerful, indoor activity that can lift your spirits when it gets dark so early. So those are my reasons.”

Fresh from the oven drop cookies

Hmm, makes sense to me. Linked or not linked, holiday or any day, baked treats sound good. But like Lindsay said, these short, cold, winter days do create a perfect and inviting atmosphere for fresh-from-the-oven cookies, or pastries, along with steaming hot coffee or hot chocolate, don’t they? That and for bundling up!

Nutella Cookies

All these talks about baking cookies with Lindsay made me want to do it too! Jeff nodded enthusiastically when I asked if he’d helped last night. I leafed through a cookbook and found a truly very easy cookie recipe: Chocolate Hazelnut Drop Cookies. The recipe called for: butter, flour, powdered sugar, pure vanilla extract, and Nutella. That’s it! All we had to do: beat butter and some sugar with a mixer, added the flour and vanilla extract, formed the dough into tiny balls, dropped them on baking sheets, baked for 12 minutes, and rolled the cookies (after cooling down for a few minutes) in the rest of the powdered sugar. Not too sweet or chocolaty and perfect with coffee! 

Chocolate Hazelnut Drop Cookies

Click here to see the full recipe

Happy baking and have a nice weekend to all!

Warm thoughts to all of us in winter wonderland.

Super Chocolaty Mini Brownies

Baking, Dessert, Recipe from Other Blogs

Doesn’t Valentine’s Day seem to get bigger each year? I see red and pink flowers, heart-shaped decorations, and of course … chocolate everywhere! Restaurant-review sites rave about best places to celebrate while cooking shows and food blogs suggest special dinner and dessert menus for the holiday. I allow the not-so-subliminal messages to get me into the spirit. I mean, why not? In the midst of this winter’s grey, snow’s blinding white, along with the blustery cold wind, I welcome a nice distraction. To me the holiday gives me an excuse to do something special like having dinner date on a Tuesday night and… making a chocolaty dessert. After seeing chocolate everywhere, on TV ads and cooking shows, at the market, and on food blogs I feel the huge urge to create something with the ingredient.

I found a Chocolate Bouchons (The New Double-Chocolate Brownie) recipe by chef Stephanie Izard (of the Girl and the Goat in Chicago) in my InStyle magazine’s January edition. Every food I have tasted at chef Izard’s restaurant has been incredibly delightful. So I got excited to try one of her recipes.

As usual, I deviate 🙂 Here’s a version adapted from chef Izard’s recipe:

We will need:

  • A 24-mini muffin tray
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 cup of Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips
  • 3 squares of Ghirardelli dark chocolate bar (I happen to have the 72% cocoa. Next time I’ll go with 60%.)
  • 1 tablespoon of pistachios (I happen to have them around)
Steps:
  • Melt the butter
  • Whisk eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl
  • Add flour, cocoa powder, salt, and melted butter. Do it slowly and one by one while keeping the whisking going. Mix well until all ingredients become one thick chocolate mixture.
  • With a food processor, chop the pistachios and the dark chocolate squares
  • With a spatula, gently mix the chocolate chips, chopped dark chocolate, and chopped pistachios into the mixture
  • Scoop the mixture to fill the muffin tray all the way to the top (or use a ziplock bag with one corner cut off )
  • Bake for 20-23 minutes in a preheated 350 degrees F  and let the brownies cool outside for 30-40 minutes. Mmm… imagine the wonderful chocolate aroma in the air. Oh…la…la…
The mini brownies come out very chocolaty. Intense! Each bite represents a combination of dark and milk chocolate and a little pistachios. The chocolate chips melt after being baked inside of the brownies. They give such wonderful texture to the tiny chocolate goodness. For sweet lovers, dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve with a scoop of vanilla or coffee ice cream. Jeff and I like ours without the added sweet just fine.
In the future, I’d like to mix either a raspberry, blackberry, or strawberry preserves into the mix (in lieu of using pistachios). Maybe I’d also melt the dark and milk chocolate. Mmm…many possibilities!

Unfortunately, I did not find chef Izard’s original recipe online so I could not link it here. But I found a similar one (click here) for those who’d like to get to know chocolate bouchons better.

Happy Valentine’s Day, readers!