tart cherry Macadamia Amaranth Squares

tart cherry Macadamia Amaranth Squares

I found this recipe in my sweet notes yesterday.  I recalled making this once and liked how simple its procedure is, no special equipment required not even a mixer, and it tastes very good.

I decide to make it again to share with dinner guests this evening, also to re-test this recipe and to just have some sweets around for sudden midnight craving.

The original recipe calls for spelt flour which I did not have so used whole wheat pastry instead when I made it the first time.   And I am very excited about using amaranth flour for this bake.

I should mention that I convert the original vegan recipe into non-vegan one by adding an egg and substituting called-for oil with butter.  I don’t usually have yogurt around so liberally use either milk/2 percent Lactaid , sour milk (1 cup of milk:1 Tablespoon of   fresh lemon juice) or this favorite So Delicious® Coconut Milk.

It is supposed to be of dense texture  but the agave nectar and the egg alone transform this into cake-y bites.  Truth is I don’t really know what it would taste like but I like how mine turns out.

It is simple but best ingredients are key here so don’t skimp on any and try this first to see how you like it before substituting other fruits and nuts of your choice.

The combination of macadamia nuts and tart cherries is very good.  The macadamia bits add a nice texture to the bite: it tastes as if it has coconut pieces in it.

And the amaranth flour contributes an intense flavoured batter, a nutty aroma during its bake, and indeed a surprising nutty bite.

This would be  my second time using whole grain flour in sweets.  I think it gives a pleasant nutty taste to the palate so think I’ll try to use more whole grain flour in future recipes.

One last thing, I also reduced the sugar a bit as the original recipe stated that it’s pretty sweet; I used a combination of agave nectar and natural sugar.

Anyhow, here is the recipe and how I make it.

Tart Cherry Macadamia Amaranth Squares

By Mily| February 20, 2009 – 21:07

Adapted from here

Ingredients (adapted from this recipe):

  • 100 g agave nectar
  • 50 g/1/3 C evaporated cane juice
  • 1 egg
  • 60 g/¼ C butter, melted and cool
  • 1/3 Cup yogurt, milk or coconut milk is a good substitution
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 100 g unbleached wheat flour
  • 120 g amaranth flour, whole spelt or whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Heaping 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 80 g/½ Cup Macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 80 g/1/2 Cup dried cherries

Equipment: a 7 x 7 inch square or 8-inch round baking pan

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 7 x 7-inch or an 8-inch round baking dish with butter.

2.  Mix the dry ingredients (flour through salt ) together.

3. Chopped the nuts and mix the dried cherries with a little flour mixture to separate them into pieces.

coarsely chopped Macadamia & tart cherries

coarsely chopped Macadamia & tart cherries

4. Mix the egg and sugar until the mixture reaches a light yellow color.  Add the melted butter, yogurt and vanilla extract to the sugar & egg mixture and stir until combined.

mixing wet ingredients

mixing wet ingredients

5.  Sift the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.  Then fold in almost all the nuts and the cherries in the batter.

the mixed batter with nuts and cherry bits

the mixed batter with nuts and cherry bits

6.  Spread it in the baking dish, sprinkle with the rest of the nut and baked for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

batter in the baking pan

batter in the baking pan

7.  Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, then take it out and cool on rack.  Enjoy it warm or at room temperature.

baked tart Cherry Macadamia Amaranth Round

baked tart Cherry Macadamia Amaranth Round

The squares had a golden color due to the agave nectar.  It’s quite moist with bursting bits of tart cherry and the richness of macadamia nuts.  Yum!

I must admit I enjoy the square much more at breakfast with a cup of red tea, with or without milk.  I hope you will give this a try and enjoy eating it as much as I do.

tart Cherry Macadamia Amaranth Squares

tart Cherry Macadamia Amaranth Squares

Note to Self:  Remember to adjust the leavening agents when baking at 5000 feet or higher.

chocolate hamantaschen

Ever since I laid my eyes on the beautifully photographed picture of these elegant yet seductive nibbles in Chocolate Holidays by the queen of chocolate Alice Medrich I knew I had to try it.  Never heard of hamantaschen before let alone eating or making it so I was very excited planning to offer these at the post-holiday family dinner.  Unfortunately I got caught up in so many unexpected things that I did not get to mixing the dough and cook the filling until way into the New Year; even then a slew of appointments threw me off  course to leave everything in the fridge for several days.  No harm was done though for the dough and the brownie filling are fine and baked perfectly.

How do they taste?  They are wonderful and just the perfect size.  The vanilla is slightly hinted in the wrapper and the filling is a little chewy chocolate-y in every bite.  The cookies are easy to make, taste pretty good and freeze well so it’s definitely a keeper.

chocolate hamantaschen

Chocolate Hamantaschen

Yield about 25-28 cookies, 3-inch size

Cookie Dough

    260 g all-purpose flour (2 Cups)
    ½ teaspoon baking powder
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    112 g (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, soften
    1 Cup of sugar ( I used ¾ Cup)
    50 g egg ( 1 egg)
    1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling **

    112 g unsalted butter (8 Tablespoons)
    115 g (4 oz) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used 72% chocolate)
    ¾ Cup sugar (I used turbinado sugar)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste)
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    2 eggs, cold
    2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

** I halved the recipe and was able to fill almost all the dough wrappers

Equipment

    Cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper
    3- inch round cookie cutter

How I do it:

First I make the filling.  Melt the butter with the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a shallow pan of simmering water.   Stir frequently until the mixture is melted and smooth, then turn off the heat.  Stir in the sugar, vanilla, and salt.   Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring in the first until incorporated before adding the second.  Stir in the flour and mix with a spatula until the mixture is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.  (As I mentioned above I left the filling in the fridge for 3 days to no ill-effect)

Second I make the cookie dough, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together and mix thoroughly with a whisk of a fork.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Fold in the flour mixture on low-speed just until incorporated.  Form the dough into 2 flat disks.  Wrap and refrigerate the disks at least until firm enough to roll, preferably several hours or overnight.  At this point the dough could be frozen and keep for about a month.  Thaw completely before use.

Remove one of the disk from the refrigerator and let it sit until supple enough to roll but still quite firm (it only takes about 5-7 minutes in a room- temperature kitchen).  It will continue to soften as you work.  Roll the dough between 2 pieces of wax paper to a thickness of 1/8 inch.  When the dough is thin enough, peel off the top sheet of paper  and keep it in front of you.  Invert the dough on that sheet.  Cut cookies as close together as possible, dipping the edges of the cutter in flour as necessary to prevent sticking.  Press dough scraps together and set aside to re-roll with scraps from the second disk.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

shaping cookies

Place cookies 1/2 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets.  Scoop and place 1 level teaspoonful of filling in the center of each cookie.   If the cookies are too soft to handle at this point, put the whole sheet in the fridge for 15-20 minutes or longer.  I find that it is easier to shape it when the cookie dough is firm.

Bring 3 sides of each cookie  up to partially cover the filling.  Pinch the edges of each cookie to seal to the corner.  Bake until pale golden at the edges, rotating the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking, about 15 minutes.  Repeat until all the cookies are baked.  Slide the parchment liners onto cooking racks.  Cool the cookies completely before stacking or storing.    The recipe says “although best on the day they are made, cookies keep 3 or 4 days in an air tight container”.    I like them the day after as well as frozen ones (only if you like frozen chocolate chip cookies then you know what I am talking about.)

chocolate hamantaschen

I learn a few things in making these cookies:

  • the dough is pretty easy to roll out but gets soften quickly.
  • after I roll and cut the cookie dough, I cool them in the fridge for 20 minutes or longer.
  • the cool (hence firmed up)  cookies are a breeze to shape.
  • the cookie and filling spread enormously so cooling them before bake seems to help its shape.
  • I only made half filling recipe for the full dough recipe and it’s almost enough (I used jam as filling for  the last 5 cookies or so)

A while back I made a large batch of ricotta cheese for usage in a few Indian dishes and ended up with quite a bit leftover.  I made ricotta cheese cake before but this time I wanted something small to nibble on and found a recipe which clicked with me right away.  As usual, I added a few changes and am happy with how it turned out.  These cookies are very moist (for cookies), fragrant with orange flavour and simply delicious. They freeze well so are a good candidate for unexpected guests. I made large batches, froze some, shared some, and got rave comments; even from my Mom who actually requested some more. A few days ago Sue asked for the recipe so it is time to post it.  Here it is, Sue.  Enjoy!

citrus ricotta cheese almond nibbles

citrus ricotta cheese almond cookies

CITRUS ALMOND RICOTTA NIBBLES

(Adapted from Home Cooking In Montana)
Yields about 20-25 cookies of 2.5-inch size.

Dry Ingredients:

    145 g (1 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons) all-purpose flour
    50 g (1/2 Cup) ground almond
    1/2  teaspoon baking powder
    1/2  teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

    56 g (4 Tablespoons)  unsalted butter, softened
    150 g  (¾ Cup)  sugar
    50 g (1) egg
    170 g (1 Cup) whole milk ricotta cheese
    2 Tablespoons lemon juice
    1 Tablespoon orange zest
    30 g (1/2 Cup) unsweetened shredded coconut (optional, but highly recommended)

Topping:

    45-50 g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces

How I do it:

    Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F,  line a large baking sheets with parchment paper.Mix the dry ingredients together thoroughly with a whisk (you can use a folk) and set aside.

    Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.

    Beat in the egg until well incorporated, mix in the ricotta cheese, and the rest of the wet ingredients until combine.  Fold in the shredded coconut at the end just to combine.

    Use a tablespoon scoop the wet thick batter out on the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

    Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges get slightly colored, rotating the sheet 180 degrees half  way.

    Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.  Remove then from the parchment onto the cooling rack ( I use  a thin metal spatula.)

    up a notch with dark chocolate drizzle

    While waiting for the cookies to cool make chocolate icing:

    Put the chocolate in a small bowl and melt it in the microwave at low heat until it is smoothly melted, about 3-4 minutes.

    Pour the melted chocolate into a Ziploc bag, push out air and seal it.

    Cut the bag’s one bottom corner to make a tiny hole about 1-2 millimeters and drizzle the chocolate on the cool cookies in different patterns. It’s fun to do this drizzling.

    Eat some now; let the topping set completely before storing cookies in an air tight container. I used wax paper to separate the cookies.

    I found this TJS 72% chocolate.  It comes conveniently  in a package of 3 small bars; one bar (47 g) is enough for this recipe if you drizzle like I do here.  It’s inexpensive and tastes great with these cookies.