Archive for Seasonal

Salted Dark Chocolate Shortbread

A few years back, when I first started my business, I’d bake mountains of Christmas cookies to distribute to my clients this time of the year. 

Well, times have changed. My teaching career took off, I entered the lucrative world of food blogging (LOL) and I slowly let my clients go. I mostly work with one major client these days. 

But I still really like baking cookies at this time of the year. Heck, at any time of the year, if we’re being honest. I’m kind of a snob about making sure Michael has homemade cookies in his lunch. And I don’t like visiting friends this time of the year empty-handed. And I do have cookie exchange this weekend… Salted Dark Chocolate Shortbread

So this year, I’m making three types of cookies. These ginger cookies are one of my faves this time of the year. I kick them up with a grating of fresh ginger and some chopped candied ginger. I’m also going to be making my vegan snickerdoodles (recipe is in my cookbook) for the vegans in the crowd, and then I made these. 

Now, to be fair, these were a very spur-of-the-moment decision. They were a bit of a risk. 

A couple weeks back, my friend Rob came into town to go to the Christmas Market with Michael and I. The next morning, after Michael had gone to school, Rob and I walked over to the downtown Lindt store before he caught the ferry back to the Sunshine Coast. I got Michael an advent calendar, and I stocked up on my favourite chocolate bar, which is the Lindt Dark Fleur de Sel. I am basically never without one of these in my house. I don’t eat a lot of them, maybe one square or two per night, but I like to have it on hand at all times. 

As we were leaving, I grabbed a Lindt-produced magazine to have a look at, as it had recipes, and I noticed this one for a chocolate shortbread. I figured I’d give it a go. 

I made the cookies and they were good. So good, in fact, that all the taste-testers concerned agreed they were blog-worthy. And I think these will now make it into my regular rotation. 

They’re super easy to make because you just make up the dough, then roll it into a log and then allow it to set up in the fridge. When you’re ready to bake them, just slice off rounds. It also freezes well, or you could gift people with logs of uncooked dough which they could bake themselves. 

By the way, this post is, in no way, shape or form sponsored by Lindt. But Lindt, if you’re reading… 😉 

Dark Chocolate Shortbread

Salted Dark Chocolate Shortbread

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups butter, softened to room temp
  • 1 ½ icing sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 bar Sea Salt Dark Chocolate (or dark chocolate plus a little extra sea salt)

Method

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. 
  2. Add the salt and then the flour slowly (so as not to create an poof of flour), until it is incorporated. 
  3. Chop the chocolate bar into small pieces, and fold the chocolate into the dough. 
  4. Divide the dough into three even lumps, and then roll the lumps out into logs about 2″ in diameter. Wrap the logs snugly in wax paper or saran wrap, then place in the fridge to set. 
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  6. Slice the logs into 1/4″ to 1/2″ slices, and place on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with a little extra grated chocolate and sea salt if desired. 
  7. Bake for around 9 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to be golden. 
  8. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack. 

Christmas Gifts for Foodies (2018 Edition)

Read through to the end of the post for the chance to win a $50 Fresh Prep gift card! 

Well, here we are in December, and Christmas is just around the corner.

I’m going through my annual struggle; what do I buy people? What cookies do I make to give away? When will I have time to even bake cookies??

The good news is, I have very few people to buy presents for. I usually make lots of cookies and give those out to family and friends, but the main person I buy presents for is Michael. As he gets older, though, it becomes a bit more of a challenge to buy stuff for him. When he was younger, there were always cool toys and games, but now that stuff no longer applies.

So this year, I’ve decided to go in a different direction. This year is going to be more about experiences rather than stuff.

As time goes on, I become more concerned about the state of the environment, and more aware of what I’m doing and how it’s affecting the world. So I’m trying to be more conscious of gifts that don’t create waste, are more sustainable choices and are better for the environment, ideally support local businesses, and/or are more about the experience and creating memories rather than stuff (that may or may not be wanted). Think presence rather than presents. Of course you can always take your special person out for a meal at your/their/a new favourite restaurant. But I’m trying to think of alternatives to that experience.

Having said all of that, I humbly put forth my ideas for Christmas Gifts for Foodies for this year.

Cooking Classes. A cooking class for you and your friend/S.O. or family member is a great gift. You get to first of all spend time together, you get to learn something, and then you get to eat it at the end! It’s a win/win/win. Check out Dirty Apron or PICA. Maybe learn to make cheese with Paula? Or if you’re vegan, take one of Karen McAthy’s.

Fresh Prep Spicy Red Pepper Tofu

Prep-at-home meal kits. If you can’t get out to a cooking class, home-delivered meal kits are a great alternative. I really like Fresh Prep. They are committed to sustainability, and creating less waste, which I love. They deliver the meal kits by bicycle courier! They have vegetarian options, and they are suitable for all levels of cooking experience. If you’re just learning, they’re great, and if you’re a more experienced cook like me, they offer something new and interesting. And making a meal with a loved one is a great way to spend time together. Add a bottle of wine, and voila! instant date night. I also buy gift certificates for friends who are recently married, who have just had a baby…

Want to try it for yourself?? Just use the code INFCOLEMAN18 when you sign up here, and you’ll get $33 off your first order!

Food Experiences. In this category, I’m thinking wine tastings, beer flights, charcuterie. You can, for example, put together a selection of 3 wines to pair alongside different types of chocolates or cheeses, and then make a night of it. Or visit a local winery for a tour and a tasting. I like Backyard’s wine and charcuterie experience.

Homemade goodies. I’m a big proponent of homemade goodies to gift. For me, it often takes the form of cookies or preserves. However, an alternative I’m excited about this year is the mason-jar option. You can make a cookie or brownie mix and gift it in a pretty mason jar. You can do the same with Instant Pot options. Another option? Homemade vanilla (but you’d better start it now).

Cookbooks

Cookbooks. I named this blog Cooking by Laptop because I found that I was cooking more and more from google and the internet than I was from my cookbooks. But I still love cookbooks deeply, and perhaps even more so since writing one myself. There’s always a selection on my coffee table. Some of my recent favourites include Cooking in Color, Bottom of the Pot, and Eating Local in the Fraser Valley (Angie lists agendas in the back of her book for foodie adventures).

Staub La Coquette

Legacy Kitchen Gear. Okay, these are the pricier gifts, but they are also gifts that last a lifetime. A dutch oven from Staub or Le Cruset is incredibly versatile–I use mine to make soups and stews, to braise in the oven, and I even make bread in it! Plus they are so pretty. Mine lives on my stove year-round, even when I’m not using it. A good chef’s knife will last a lifetime, or a really good blender like a Vitamix or a Blendtec is basically forever.

SingleTree Wine Jellies

Specialty ingredients. There are things that many foodies lust for, but tend to be more expensive, and if you don’t have a reason to buy them, you might not. I’m talking about really good quality olive oils or balsamics, flavored sea salts (I love Amola and Vancouver Island Sea Salt. Specialty coffee is always wonderful, as is truffle oil. I also love to gift locally-made preserves, like Vista D’oro’s or Salt Spring Kitchen Co, or wine jellies to serve with your charcuterie. I am also IN LOVE with this local goat milk caramel.

Blue Grouse Wine Candles

Candles. I like food-scented candles a lot. My go-to are the vanilla ones from Ikea, but there are some locally-made versions that rock. Cartems, my #1 all time favourite donuts, have just launched a line of donut scented candles. Let me say that again: donut scented candles!!!! You can also buy wine-scented candles from Blue Grouse, that come in an upcycled wine bottle.

Giveaway!!

Tis the season for gift-giving, so I have one for you. Fresh Prep has kindly offered one of my readers a $50 Gift Card for their service, so you can try it for free, or you can gift it to someone for Christmas!

To enter, just comment below and tell me what’s on your Christmas wish list this year.

I’ll choose one lucky winner at random on Friday, December 14.

Good luck!

 

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