Tag Archives: spice

Chinese Chai Cookies

12 Dec

In my random internet roamings a couple months ago, I stumbled across the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I was so excited to find it! The concept is very simple and right up my alley: I bake some cookies and mail them to 3 people. 3 different people bake some cookies and mail me a batch. We all have a chance to try delicious homemade treats and spread a little holiday cheer. How nice.

I knew that the shipping deadline was right around the time that I had a huge work event, so I even managed to get my cookies baked and shipped early. AMAZING. Seriously. Doing something before the last minute is a huge accomplishment for me.

I had a free afternoon a few weekends ago, so I started doing a little research. I narrowed it down to four recipe options and invited my BFF Lauren (a.k.a. Betsy Bundt) over to help. I was mostly concerned about durability — making sure the cookie could withstand shipping — and lasting freshness, since it would take a few days for me to bake, package, ship, and arrive across the country.

We found a delicious-sounding recipe for a Chai Spice Cookie. Based on preference and the ingredients I had on hand, we altered the recipe a bit and settled on a “Chinese Chai Cookie.” Chinese because instead of allspice, we included Chinese 5 Spice.

Chinese Chai Cookies

Chai is one of my favorite hot drinks, especially in the fall. As soon as fall season looks like it might be even just beginning, my car starts driving itself to Starbucks for chai lattes. This lasts until Christmas season, when my car knows that I really want peppermint hot chocolate. I make it through winter, and then I’m set. Until the next fall, anyway.

Tea & Cookies

These cookies were really good. They have a great texture and durability like a traditional sugar cookie. But they have an extra little flavor to them. They’re really not intense at all — the chai spice flavor is much more subtle than most chai lattes. But like a chai latte, they start out with a sweet flavor and finish with a warm spicy note on the back of your tongue. Amazing.

After we baked the cookies, I packaged them by rolling up a stack of cookies in clear cellophane wrap and tying the ends with a cute little bow.

Happy Holidays!

Really. I said a cute bow. See?

Tied with a bow

I hope you enjoy these! They make an excellent, sophisticated snack. Perfect for afternoon tea!

Chinese Chai Cookies, adapted from My Baking Addiction

2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups white sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese 5 Spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, Chinese 5 Spice, nutmeg, and black pepper. Reserve 1/4 cup of this mixture; set aside to reserve for rolling cookies.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and remaining sugar-spice mixture on medium for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla; mix until incorporated.

Slowly blend in dry ingredients until just combined.

Using a small scoop, form into balls and then roll in the reserved sugar-spice mixture. Place dough balls on prepared baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. Let stand 2 minutes, then remove to cool on wire racks.

Yield: Approx. 3 dozen cookies

Linking up for:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Make Something Monday from Sarahdipities

Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Buttercream

29 Oct

It’s fall, and that means I’m craving all things pumpkin and chai. Or even pumpkin chai. (Ask for it at Starbucks. You’re welcome.) So after a few weeks of salivating over Pinterest pictures, I finally went out to buy some pumpkin and refill my flour and sugar stocks.

I whipped this up one afternoon before having dinner with some friends. I had already made some pumpkin brownies and had leftover pumpkin puree from that, so I needed to finish it off. Pumpkin cake it is. I mostly followed the recipe for Pumpkin Bread from NancyCreative, and topped it off with my own interpretation of Spiced Buttercream from Oh She Glows.

And oh my goodness it was so good. It was fall on a fork. Everyone had an extra slice, and then I sent them home with a little more. Our friend Jesse told me it was his favorite dessert I’d ever made him. So yeah, it was a hit.

Dig in!

The original recipe called for pumpkin puree, and I had accidentally bought pumpkin pie filling. But it made the cake that much sweeter, taking the recipe from a ‘bread’ to a ‘cake.’ And being originally designed as a loaf recipe, the cake was deliciously dense and moist. A little heavy, but I think that makes it perfect for a brisk fall evening on the porch.

Have I mentioned how much I love North Carolina in the fall? I’ve met my share of visitors who decided to put down roots in Chapel Hill after experiencing one of our lovely autumns. Beautiful leaves, beautiful weather. During the day, there’s that perfect Carolina blue sky. And then it gets just a slight chill in the evening, making it perfectly cozy for a sweater, a glass of wine, and a big slice of this cake.

"I'm ready for my close up."

So back to the cake, because surely you’ll want to know how to make it. It’s not hard — you can do it.

Pumpkin Spice Cake from NancyCreative.com

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed brown sugar (dark or light, doesn’t matter)
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin pie filling*

(* If you only have pumpkin puree, you can easily use that instead. Open the can and reserve 2/3 cup of the pumpkin puree for another recipe. Then mix in 2/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cloves and 1/2 tsp salt into the remaining pumpkin puree. Substitute this mixture in place of pumpkin pie filling.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9″ round pan (I used a springform) with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined, and set aside.

In another bowl, beat eggs on medium-high speed for a minute or so. Mix in the following ingredients one at a time: the brown sugar, then the white sugar, then the canola oil. Reduce speed to low and add the pumpkin pie filling. Add half the dry ingredients, mixing until incorporated, and then the other half, mixing just until incorporated.

Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack. While it cools, prepare the frosting.

Spiced Buttercream Frosting, with inspiration from Oh She Glows

1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
2 tsp milk (whole is best, but any milk will do)

Beat the butter in a bowl on medium until whipped. Add about half the powdered sugar, and mix well. Then add the vanilla and spices, and mix well. Add the rest of the sugar, and mix well. Add up to 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) of milk, as needed to achieve desired consistency.

As soon as the cake is cooled, add the frosting. If you want, top it off with some chopped walnuts. Mmm… yum.

Coconut Curry Chicken

29 Jan

Woo! Another dinner meal! Not baking, true, but a really beautiful dish that’s not too spicy and easy enough for a weeknight. This recipe, which I adapted from a recipe on allrecipes.com, served 2 — me and the BF. We generally don’t eat very much, so feel free to increase the ingredients here if you’re an average-to-big eater.

I started off by dicing up a couple chicken breasts and setting them aside. In a medium bowl, I mixed together 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1 teaspoon curry powder. Basically, just add in whatever you have in your spice rack. If you’re missing one or two of these things, don’t worry, just go with what you have. I also added in a dash of salt and a dash of pepper. I threw the chicken into the spice bowl and tossed it around until all the pieces were well-coated.

I heated about a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and then browned the chicken. Once it was brown, but not fully cooked, I moved the pieces to the outside of the pan and added in 1/2 sliced onion, 1/4 sliced green bell pepper, 1/4 sliced yellow bell pepper, 1/4 sliced red bell pepper and 1 tablespoon minced garlic. (The onions and peppers were julienne cut. They were frozen from the leftovers of another dinner. It is not necessary to have different colored bell peppers — they all taste the same. So unless you have leftovers or plan on saving the leftovers from this recipe, just pick one bell pepper and go with it.) I cooked those till the onions became almost clear. Then I dumped in 1 can of diced tomatoes — you can choose whatever variety you like, but I usually get the ones that already have flavors roasted into them, like the one with basil, garlic, and oregano. I stirred everything up, turned the heat down to a medium-low simmer, and cooked everything for another 6-8 minutes. Then I stirred in 1/2 (8 oz) can of coconut milk. Another minute to heat it through, and I was ready to serve!

Cookin' Curry
I served it up on top of bowls of jasmine rice and served naan on the side. (If you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s where you live, get your frozen garlic naan from there. It’s easy, cheap, and delicious. I guess if you’re crazy, you could find a recipe online and make it yourself.)

Dinner Is Served

How Sue Sees It:
– I personally thought this was a little bland, but super-flavorful foods tend to be my favorite, like Indian curries, so I think I’m just picky. The BF liked this pretty well.
– You can use regular or light coconut milk, whichever you prefer. Just be sure to shake it up before you open the can.
– Next time I will probably experiment with more healthful ingredients, like chickpeas, eggplant, cauliflower, green beans, etc.