Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_7834I know there are lots of chocolate chip cookies out there, but this is my go-to recipe. I prefer cookies that are chewy in the middle, and maybe a bit crispy on the edges. This recipe is quick, easy, and consistently good. For those living in Japan, you can replace chocolate chips with chopped up chocolate bars.

Ingredients
150g (11 tbsp) butter
½ cup white sugar
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
2/3 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips (or chocolate chunks)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180C (350F).

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking soda. Beat for three to four minutes (batter may be dry). Add chocolate chips.

Scoop dough out in 1-tablespoon balls. Place 2 inches (5cm) apart on the cookie sheet. Bake for 8-11 minutes. Don’t overbake!

Note: You can freeze the 1-tablespoon balls unbaked and then bake them straight from the freezer later. Just add a minute or two on the baking time.

Kinkan Kanro-ni

kinkan3Kinkan is the Japanese word for kumquat, and they are quite common in Japan. There’s a kumquat tree in my neighbor’s yard. In the supermarket, they are available, like most citrus, in the winter. I don’t think they’re very popular in the U.S., at least, not in the northeast. They’re bitter inside, but the skin is sweet. In this recipe, they are candied, and can then be used in a variety of ways. I chopped some up and put them in Christmas cookies this year.

Ingredients
350g (12 oz) kumquats
320mL (1-1/3 cups) water
1 cup sugar

Instructions

kinkanKumquats have seeds in them, and if you want to remove them, you can cut some vertical slits in the kumquats before boiling. If you don’t remove them, though, it’s no problem – you can either eat them along with the candied fruits, or remove them while cutting or eating them later.

kinkan2Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the kumquats and boil for 3 minutes, then drain. If desired, you can repeat the boiling process. After they are cooked, soak them in cold water for 5 minutes.

Place the 320mL/1-1/3 cups water and the 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. When the sugar dissolves, add the kumquats. Bring to a low simmer and cook until the syrup is almost gone, about 45 minutes.

The candied kumquats should be stored in the fridge. You can eat them plain, use them as a topping, or mix them into cookies or bread. I added them to biscotti.

Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

cranberry blissThese cookies are very Christmasy! Their color of red and white is really pretty, and the sweet white chocolate goes well with the tart cranberries. A cream cheese frosting is also really nice. This recipe makes a pretty large batch, so you can definitely halve it. The original recipe is from here.

Ingredients (about 4 dozen cookies)
Cookies:
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
227g (1 cup) butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips/chunks
1 cup dried cranberries

Frosting:
200g (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white chocolate chips/chunks, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Topping:
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup white chocolate chips/chunks, melted

Instructions

Make the cookies: Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well. Slowly add the dry ingredients. Fold in the white chocolate and cranberries.

Chill dough for 1 hour. Place rounded tablespoons on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake at 180C/350F for 10 to 12 minutes, until light golden on the edges. Let cookies cool completely.

Make frosting: Beat together cream cheese and melted white chocolate. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth. If it’s not thick enough, you can add additional powdered sugar.

Spread the frosting on the cool cookies. Sprinkle with the chopped cranberries and drizzle with the melted white chocolate.

Oatmeal Cookie Bars

oatmeal chunk barsThese oatmeal bars are quick and delicious. They’re still cookies, so they’re not exactly health food, but they include oats and nuts and can be made with whole wheat flour. You can customize these with whatever you want to mix in. I have two common variations: chocolate/walnut, and white chocolate/cranberry/walnut.

Ingredients
1 cup flour (all-purpose or a mixture of AP and whole wheat)
3/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup oats (quick-cooking work best for me, but rolled oats are fine too)
85g (6 tbsp) butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
170g (6 oz) chocolate chips or chunks, chopped nuts, and/or dried fruit

Instructions

Cream butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add all dry ingredients and mix to combine. Finally, stir in your chocolate, nuts, and/or fruit.

The batter will be rather thick. Spread it in an 8-inch (21-cm) square pan, and bake at 190C (375 F) for 18-20 minutes.

(This recipe can be doubled and made in a 13×9 inch pan.)

Yuzu Black Tea Cookies

yuzu cookiesI generally don’t like citrus flavor in cookies, but the exception is yuzu. If you get a chance to try yuzu, definitely go for it! It’s hard to describe, but really tasty in both sweet and savory dishes. I adapted a black tea cookie recipe to make these. You will need a whole fresh yuzu, which are commonly available in Japan in the winter, but I’m not sure about the U.S.

Ingredients
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp black tea leaves (about 1 teabag)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
113g (1/2 cup) butter
1 medium yuzu (for juice and zest)
6 tbsp powdered sugar

Instructions

First, zest the yuzu, then squeeze out the juice (use a strainer – they have a large number of seeds). My medium-sized yuzu produced about 1-1/2 tsp zest and 1 tbsp juice. For this recipe we will use 2-1/2 tsp juice and 1-1/2 tsp zest.

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugars, tea leaves, and salt. Pulse to combine.

Add the vanilla, butter, and 1 tsp yuzu juice, and pulse several times to combine.

Remove the dough from the food processor and place onto plastic wrap. Form into a log shape and wrap up in the plastic. Let chill in the fridge or freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

Slice into 1/4 inch slices and place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes until light brown around the edges.

While the cookies cool, make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, 1-1/2 tsp yuzu juice, and 1 tsp yuzu zest.

Walnut Jam Thumbprints

thumbprintThese cookies are great in winter. You can use any kind of jam in them, but I think a tart flavor is better to contrast with the sweet cookie. Favorites are raspberry and cassis jam. I got this recipe from my mom, but you can find it all over on the Internet.

Ingredients
113g (1/2 cup) butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup jam

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

Beat butter and sugar. Add egg yolk and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour and salt and mix to combine.

Beat the reserved egg white. Roll cookie dough into 1-inch (2.5cm) balls. Dip the cookies into the egg white, and roll in the chopped walnuts.

With one finger or a small spoon, make an indentation in the top of each ball. Fill with about 1/4 tsp of jam.

Bake cookies for about 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Christmas Cookies

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is not celebrated as much in Japan as in the U.S. Here, it’s more like New Year’s Eve in America – a night to go out and party with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Traditional foods eaten on Christmas in Japan include Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Christmas cake, a sponge cake with strawberries and whipped cream. People are always shocked that we don’t do that in America too…

Anyway, every year that we’ve been in Japan, I’ve made a project of baking lots of Christmas cookies and giving them to neighbors, co-workers, and friends. This year I’ve made several types, including some new ones. Most of these are not yet on this blog, but I’ll link to them so you can see the original recipes. Many of them were changed or adapted, but these were the starting points.

IMG_7636Walnut Thumbprints
Biscotti (I made a version with candied kumquats and almonds)
Yuzu Black Tea Cookies
Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Bars
Roasted Chestnut Cookies
Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies
Orangettes
Brownie Roll-Out Cookies

Have a great holiday!