Sexy Spicy Chocolate Cookies

cropped-2012-11-30-12-37-31.jpg

There is nothing sexier than the heady mixture of rich chocolate and cayenne pepper. I remember a scene in Chocolat where Juliette Binoche adds cayenne pepper to her hot chocolate. Ever since then, I have done the same with my hot chocolate. So when I discovered these cookies, I just about died in ecstasy.

These cookies are perfectly crunchy on the outside, and soft, melt-in-your-mouth chewy on the inside. The best part? They’re vegan! (My boyfriend refused to believe that they were vegan until I showed him the recipe. Score!)

Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together the oil and sugar.  Let stand a few minutes before whisking in the syrup, milk, and vanilla extract.

Sift in the remaining ingredients, stirring as you add them. Once all ingredients are added, mix until you’ve got pliable dough.

Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls. Transfer the dough balls to a baking sheet at least 2 inches apart (they do spread). Bake for 10-12 minutes; they should be a bit spread and crackly on top. Remove the cookies from the oven, let them cool 5 minutes, and then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. And let the addiction begin.

Cinnamon Pastry Puffs

I may have nearly set the house on fire last night. Oops. (Sorry, Mum.)

But it was all worth it for these little beauties.

2014-02-12 22.48.21

I’ve found a few recipes for cinnamon pastry puffs, but none of them seem to work out in my favour. Either my kitchen becomes consumed by a blanket of smoke (like last night), or the pastry ends up soggy and undercooked. Nothing is worse than pastry that is undercooked. Or, you know, a burned-out shell of a house….

The trick to perfection in this case is setting the oven to a high temperature. I started at 425 degrees F, but should have started at 475. They also work really well (and I might say, better) in muffin tins. That way, the butter won’t seep onto the bottom of the oven and lead to the panicked waving of arms trying to get the smoke out (which almost never works, by the way).

Pastry

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, chilled
  • 1/2–1 cup cold water

Mix flour, sugar, salt, and butter together until well combined. Some large chunks of butter are OK. Add the water 1 tbsp at a time until pastry holds together but is not sticky. Chill for half an hour before rolling.

Cinnamon Pastry Puffs

Ingredients:

  • Pastry (see above)
  • 2 tbsp melted butter, unsalted
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2–4 tbsp sugar, depending on preference

Dust a clean surface with flour. Place pastry in the middle and also dust with flour. Roll out to 1/4 of an inch thick in roughly a rectangular shape. You can always trim uneven bits if you like.

2014-02-12 22.07.06

Once pastry is rolled, brush the melted butter to the edge, making sure everything is covered. Dust with cinnamon and sugar (I like to mix them together first) and roll.

2014-02-12 22.12.03

Use a knife to cut the roll into 1-inch slices, place on a baking sheet (or muffin tin) and bake at 475 degrees F for 10–15 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

2014-02-12 22.18.26

Let cool 5–10 minutes before serving.

2014-02-12 22.48.08

Georgian Bay Apple Pie

IMG_0247

Mmm, apple pie.

Who doesn’t love the smell of tart apples, cinnamon, and pastry fusing together to form a delicious, crispy slice of heaven.

I remember apple pie being a rare treat growing up. My mum would make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas and very occasionally on request. My very favourite part was the crust—perfectly crisp and flaky and buttery to the last bite. Once I had been taught how to make the perfect pastry (the recipe can be found here at Smitten Kitchen), my mum gave me her coveted recipe. It was like I had been entrusted to my family’s entire wealth, which I will now share with you.

This pie is too good to keep closeted away.

Ingredients

Pastry for deep 9-inch double-crust pie

For brushing:

  • 1 tbsp light cream
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar

Filling:

  • 8 cups sliced, peeled apples
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp coarsely grated orange rind (approx. 1 orange)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 tsp butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

In a large bowl, toss apples, sugar, flour, rind, nutmeg, cinnamon, and orange juice. Spoon into a prepared pie shell and dot with butter.

Roll out top pastry. Moisten the rim of the shell and cover with top pastry. Trim edges and fold under to make a thick crust and flute it with your fingers. Brush lightly with cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Cut steam vents in the top of the crust and be sure to put a pan under the pie while it’s in the oven. Otherwise you will have sticky sugary goo on the bottom of your oven that will tend to aggravate your fire alarm.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. Then, reduce heat to 375 F (190 C) and bake for 35-40 minutes. The pie is done when the crust is golden brown and a knife stuck in the steam vent meets minimal resistance. Let pie cool on a rack and top with whipped cream or cheddar cheese.

2013-09-16 21.29.02