Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013 Recipe: Fudge Brownie Cherry Pistachio Cookies
And it's time! It's time to share the results of the 2013 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! Not that this was like a contest or anything. It was just really exciting to be a part of, and I had so much fun participating. I know that this will be something I look forward to every year from now on, and will always be ready to join in on the fun! For those of you who may not have heard about the swap before, it basically entails the participation of a lot of food bloggers from around the world (yes, the world) who exchange a dozen cookies with three different bloggers, and today is the day we share the recipe for the cookies we mailed out. The greatest part is that this is all done for a really great cause in support of Cookies for Kids' Cancer, which makes participating just that much sweeter. I have been wanting to participate in the swap for the past two years, but I always forgot about it until it was too late to register. This year, the swap somehow managed to cross my mind in September I think it was, and I signed up for a reminder email to sign up later in the year. I was so excited to finally be able to participate!
For this year's swap, I was assigned to send cookies to Lindsay, from Love and Olive Oil, Billy, from Wit and Vinegar, and Rachel, from A Southern Fairytale. The last two blogs were completely new to me, so it was really great to get some exposure to new blogs. I got some great cookies out of the swap, and I loved the anticipation of waiting for the boxes to arrive on my doorstep almost as much as the cookies themselves. I was so excited on the day that my first box of cookies came in, especially because I got two boxes on the first day! Julianne from Beyond Frosting sent me a batch of chocolate peppermint cookies; Preeti from The Big Fat Indian Wedding made three different kinds of buttery, flaky rugelach (one of my favorite cookies ever!); Ruthy from Omeletta sent over some tasty brown butter pecan sandies. Thank you all so much, these cookies were really fantastic!
As excited as I was to participate in the swap this year, I'll admit that I had a lot of trouble deciding what kind of cookie I wanted to make. It had to be a durable cookie that would stay delicious after a few days of being baked, and sturdy enough that it wouldn't get crushed or smushed in shipping. I was debating between chocolate chip type cookies, or bar cookies, or sugar cookies...but nothing really jumped out at me. I mean, they all sounded good, but I wasn't as enthusiastic about my ideas as I would have liked to be. I ended up settling on a flavor combination of white chocolate, cherries, and pistachios, sort of like a spumoni inspired combination, and I thought that pairing this combination with a chocolate brownie cookie base would be a good match. It was a good idea, but I wasn't exactly thrilled. However, my procrastination got the best of me, and I found myself baking these cookies the day before I had to mail them to make the deadline, hoping that they would come out good enough...and I was very pleasantly surprised to see that I ended up LOVING them!
These cookies are only sort of new to the blog. A couple months ago, I posted a recipe for Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownie Cookies, and I completely fell in love with the cookie that came out of the recipe. It was rich and chocolatey, soft and fudgey, and just melted into your mouth with every bite. I knew that it was the type of cookie that I could use as a base for a number of different combinations. Once I managed to figure out that I wanted to try out this cherry-pistachio flavor pairing, these brownie cookies seemed like the perfect cookie base to use. I remembered from the first time I made them that they kept very well over the course of a few days, so I figured they would last a couple of days in the mail without losing any flavor or becoming stale and hard. It turns out that this cookie base was a perfect option for cookies that needed to be shipped. After a few days, the couple of extra cookies I had made for myself tasted as good, if not better than when I first made them. The addition of the chewy dried cherries goes so nicely with the sweet fudgey cookie and the salty crunch of the chopped pistachios, and after a few days, the flavors had a chance to really come together, making for an absolutely delicious cookie.
These cookies are really simple to make, especially if you're only making one batch. The first time I posted this recipe, I was able to make it with nothing more than a few bowls and a wooden spoon. The problem was that that version of the recipe only made 2 1/2 batches of cookies...just shy of the three dozen cookies I needed to ship out! I decided to make a double batch of cookies so that I would have extra cookies to pick out the nicest to send off, and keep the inevitable, but still yummy, slightly deformed cookies for myself. Nothing wrong with a few extra cookies right? Since I would be dealing with twice the amount of ingredients and twice the amount of mix-in ingredients, it only made sense to mix up the cookies in a stand mixer. If you don't have a stand mixer, a hand mixer will do the job just fine. Or, if you need less cookies, simply halve the recipe ingredients listed below and you'll be able to mix the cookies by hand in just a few minutes without any trouble at all. It's a good thing these cookies are so simple to make, once you try them, you'll want to just make them over and over again...they're that good!
To ensure that these cookies made it safely to their destinations, I decided to package them in nice metal tins. A bit of tissue paper covered the inside and concealed the cookies, making them a present of sorts. I then decided to hand letter a card to go inside the tins, with the name of the cookie and my contact information. The hand lettering was definitely the most time consuming part of the whole packaging process, but I had a lot of fun working on the cards. I have a slight obsession with hand lettering, calligraphy, and typography (with words, really), and I've always wanted to give hand lettering a shot. I learned how much trickier hand lettering is than I originally thought, but I'm sure that with a bit of practice it'll begin to come more naturally (at least that's what happened with food photography for me!). This year's swap was so much fun, and I really hope to be able to participate again and again. I hope Lindsay, Billy, and Rachel enjoyed their cookies, and I can't wait for next year's swap!
Fudge Brownie Cherry Pistachio Cookies
recipe inspired by the Joy the Baker Cookbook
16 oz semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar, scant
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon hot coffee
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
1 cup dried cherries
Place a heatproof bowl over a pot filled with an inch of simmering water to create a double boiler. Add the chocolate chips and butter to the bowl and heat together, stirring occasionally, until the butter and chocolate have melted together and are smooth. Once melted, remove the bowl from the heat, and allow the chocolate to cool slightly. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
Once the chocolate has cooled a bit, transfer it to the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, and hot coffee, mixing to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each egg has been well incorporated before adding the next. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl as needed.
Mix in the dry ingredients, mixing only until just incorporated. Stir in the white chocolate chips, pistachios, and dried cherries just until evenly distributed. Refrigerate the cookie dough for 30 minutes.
While the cookie dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare baking sheets by lining them with silicone liners or parchment paper (I used Silpats). Once the cookie dough has chilled, use a cookie scoop to portion out the cookies onto the baking sheets, leaving about two inches of space in between them to allow the cookies to spread.
Bake the cookies for 15 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool almost completely on the baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack or your mouth. Enjoy!
Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies