Chew This – Chocolate Snickerdoodles

Happy “Chew This!” Sunday! As many of you already know, I write a twice monthly column that appears in “The Courier-Times” on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month. I LOVE it and it is such a great opportunity for me to share my love of food, recipes, family and memories with all of you! If you live in the Henry County, Indiana area – pick up a copy! If you do not – you can subscribe online! Visit http://thecouriertimes.com for more information or email me at blaisethebaker@gmail.com and I would be happy to help you set up an account!

Today’s column is all about taking a classic cookie and giving it a “twist”! My “Chocolate Snickerdoodles” were born out of an idea I had to add chocolate to your traditional Snickerdoodle cookie recipe. After many trials and errors I found the perfect combination of chocolate, texture and familiar “Snickerdoodle” flavor. My taste testers and I found these to be incredible!

Also in today’s column, my “Ask and Answer” feature answers your questions on the “perfect pie crust”! I have some tips and tricks that you will need to read and follow for that “foolproof” pastry!

Chocolate Snickerdoodles

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, January 15th 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

A Twist on a Classic Cookie
Blaise Doubman

I have loved Snickerdoodle cookies for as long as I can remember! There is just something so special about a soft and chewy cookie that is rolled in cinnamon and packed with butter and sugar. Just the smell of them baking is enough to bring back wonderful childhood memories for me of my Mom and Grandma’s making these in their kitchens. Truthfully, the dough is pretty good too. I’m not endorsing eating raw cookie dough – never a good idea – but since I’m a recipe developer, I have to taste all the steps and processes leading up to the finalized product. Convincing enough? On a serious note though, I have always loved everything about a Snickerdoodle. Even the name. How fun is it saying, “Snickerdoodle”!?

Awhile back I was wondering to myself how I could ever “improve” on the original Snickerdoodle cookie. I tried adding white chocolate, cinnamon chips and a thick vanilla buttercream. The buttercream worked pretty well, but the white chocolate and cinnamon chips did not have the taste I was looking for. Then suddenly, one day, it hit me! Add chocolate! Of course! So, with the addition of unsweetened cocoa powder, a roll in white granulated sugar and a hint of pure vanilla extract, my “Chocolate Snickerdoodles” were born! These are deliciously different than the Snickerdoodles you may be used to, in taste and texture. The texture of these cookies are more in the “sandy” family and the taste is rich and decadent.

Chocolate Snickerdoodles

Using solid vegetable shortening instead of butter in this recipe guarantees the cookies to have that “sandy” quality that I was looking for when developing the recipe. It also guarantees the cookies to have that uniform “cracked” appearance that so many people ask me about and recognize. Feel free to add a little ground or roasted cinnamon to the dough of this particular cookie, for a “spicy hot chocolate” version. This dough can also be made in advance and kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days.

2 cups white granulated sugar, plus ½ cup divided
1 ½ cups solid vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups white all-purpose flour

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the 2 cups white granulated sugar and solid vegetable shortening until smooth and combined. Beat in 2 large eggs.

Add in the unsweetened cocoa powder, pure vanilla extract, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Stir together until everything is thoroughly combined and mixed together well.

Finally, gently fold in the white all-purpose flour, being careful not to overwork the dough.

Place the remaining ½ cup white granulated sugar into a small bowl.

Using a teaspoon, scoop out the dough and roll into a ball. Make the dough balls about the size of a walnut. Roll the dough balls in the white granulated sugar, coating evenly, before place them on the prepared baking sheets. Leave about 2-inch space between each cookie.

Bake, one baking sheet at a time, in the preheated oven for 14 minutes. Once the cookies have cracked on top and settled on the bottom, they are done.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before enjoying.

Ask and Answer: I have been getting messages about the “perfect pie crust” and people looking for that one foolproof recipe. I’ve been making my Grandma Barbra’s pie crust for years and have shared that recipe here, on my website, and in Donna Cronk’s book “That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland”. I do have some simple tips that may help with your pie crust making. First, always use cold ingredients. Second, don’t take the process so seriously. Relax and have fun with it. Nothing ever turns out when all the fun is taken away from it. Thirdly, I always use solid vegetable shortening in my crust. Butter simply can’t replicate the tenderness and flakiness of solid vegetable shortening. Hope this helps!

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Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Fudge 

In developing this recipe, I wanted a peanut butter fudge that did not include butter or confectioner’s sugar. I did not want it to contain sweetened condensed milk either. I wanted the fudge to be able to be whipped up fast with ingredients that everyone would have in their pantry. After many trials and errors, the recipe I am sharing with you today is perfect! Only four ingredients and less than 15 minutes. How fabulous is that!?

Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Fudge

2 cups white granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup smooth peanut butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a large saucepan over medium heat combine the white granulated sugar and whole milk. Stir until it comes to a boil. 

Once boiling, stir continuously and allow to boil for 3 minutes. 

Remove from heat and stir in the smooth peanut butter and pure vanilla extract. 

Pour into a greased and foiled 9×9-inch baking dish. 

Allow to cool at room temperature before cutting and serving. 

Keep covered at room temperature. 

Enjoy! 

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Turkey Tips

Have you ever seen a more perfect turkey!? My tips on turkey baking –

1. Turkey needs to be room temperature before going into the oven.

2. Rinse turkey – pat dry with paper towels.

3. Cover turkey with softened butter. Place butter in cavities, under legs and wings. Place butter underneath skin between skin and breast meat.

4. Season with plenty of kosher salt and black pepper. Inside and outside of turkey. Do not be afraid to season!

5. Cook LOW and SLOW.

6. When turkey is done remove from oven and allow to sit at room temperature for several minutes before slicing and serving.

Enjoy!

Chew This! Celebration Party Mix

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Sending love and prayers to ALL that this coming New Year will bring with it health and happiness! Make this year the year of celebrating everything – big or small! Enjoy life and celebrate moments with the ones you love. Celebrate by going out with friends, celebrate by getting together with your family, celebrate by yourself and staying in with your favorite drink and current reading selection, celebrate by making my fabulous “Celebration Party Mix”! Celebrate – life!

My “Chew This!” column is all about “Celebration Party Mix” and I am so excited to be sharing it with all of you! It is delicious, easy to make and beyond versatile! Add (or subtract) anything you want! Make it to fit your taste buds – and then experiment with different herbs and seasonings.

My Grandma Barbra and I have been making this for awhile now and the recipe originated from a children’s cookbook that she bought at “Grandparent’s Day” when I was in Elementary School. There is different ways of making “Party Mix” but we neither one had ever run across a method quite like this one. We experimented over the years with different flavor (and texture) combinations and what we finally narrowed it down to, is perfect!

If you are in the Henry County, Indiana area – please pick up a copy of “The Courier-Times” today – and let me know what you think! You can view this column – as well as all of my other columns – by subscribing to “The Courier-Times” online! Visit http://thecouriertimes.com for more information – or write to me and I will help you out! Email me at blaisethebaker@gmail.com

My column today also features an “Ask and Answer” feature about my foolproof method in melting chocolate chips.


Celebration Party Mix

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, January 1st 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Party Mix to celebrate the New Year!
Blaise Doubman

For years and years my family and I would all make “New Year’s Resolutions” but after awhile we stopped. It was almost like no matter what the “resolution” would be, it would automatically fail within the first few weeks. Once we stopped doing it, it was almost like a weight had been lifted. There was no restraints on what we should or should not be doing and we were all able to come into the New Year without any heavy expectations. Celebrating the New Year was just an all around more enjoyable experience. I always admired people who made a resolution and stuck with them – good for them! And if you do now – good for you! I, however, gave up on that tradition long ago. However, I do let myself make “New Years Goals” for the coming year, which always seems to help guide me over the course of the coming year. Life happens unexpectedly most of the time but it does help when there is a little bit of a navigational course you plan for yourself. This year some of my goals are personal, some professional. Personally I am wanting to make more time for spontaneous things. Professionally I am wanting to expand my knowledge of foreign cuisine and customs.

I am also setting the goal of making and developing more recipes that are “seasonal” in aspect of ingredients and taste. I love celebrating the Holidays with family and friends and so many of our recipes are geared towards certain Holidays, without even really thinking about it. I am going to try and make more of a point to make certain recipes for certain Holiday celebrations and I am going to start here with this one! My “Celebration Party Mix” was inspired by a recipe that my Grandma Barbra and I have been making for years that was originally found in an old children’s cookbook that my Grandma bought at a book sale. Over the years we have added and subtracted all kinds of ingredients and what is listed below is our favorite combination of flavors and textures. Save this recipe and stir up a batch anytime there’s a celebration!

Celebration Party Mix

This recipe is one of the most versatile recipes I think I have ever created. You can literally add anything you want to this mix, customizable in thousands of different options. Add your favorite cereal, granola, raisins, dates, dried fruits or nuts. The flavor is customizable as well! Add your favorite hot sauce, seasoning packet or favorite powder staple. The sky is really the limit with this mix! This is best served warm but can also be served at room temperature. Feel free to double or even triple this recipe. Experiment and have fun with the flavors and textures!

4 tablespoons salted butter
1 cup salted mixed nuts
1 cup pretzel sticks
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1 cup wheat squares cereal
1 cup cheddar square crackers
1 cup large wheat crackers
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
5 drops hot sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Start by preheating your oven to 250 degrees F.

Place the butter in a large 9×13-inch shallow baking pan and place in the oven.

Once the oven has preheated and the butter has completely melted, carefully remove the pan and add the salted mixed nuts, pretzel sticks and cereal. Add the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder. Stir everything together well to coat.

Place mixture in preheated oven for 30 minutes, removing and stirring every 10 minutes.

After baking, remove from the oven and pour the snack mix into a large serving bowl.

Leftovers can be kept at room temperature, in a covered container for 5 days.

Ask and Answer: Several readers have been asking how to properly melt chocolate chips in the microwave. The answer is simple – always add a little bit of solid vegetable shortening to the chips. In a microwave safe bowl, add the desired amount of chocolate chips and add a little less than 1 tablespoon of pure solid vegetable shortening for every 1 ½ cups of chips. Microwave on 100% power in 30 second intervals until the chocolate is smooth and silky when you stir it.

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