Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

By dark chocolate, I mean really dark—and not just because of the chips. Adapted from a recipe on the back of the Nestlé Toll House Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels bag, this concoction has added coffee and less sugar, giving the cookies a deep chocolate flavor suitable for cacao aficionados. Indeed, I thought these would only appeal to adults, but they have received rave reviews from children as well. I think the mint is why our daughter likes them so much. The chocolate-mint duo is such a winning combination that the omitted sugar (2/3 cup) and butter (1/2 stick) don’t seem to be missed.

Note: These photos were taken months ago, when I was experimenting with less cocoa in the recipe. The final “approved” cookies are much darker, but I’m not about to ask Matt to take more pictures after he did such a great job with these! Also, if you use Nestlé Mint Morsels, you’ll definitely be able to see the green chips in most of the cookies, unlike the all-chocolate varieties shown here.

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

Makes almost 3 dozen cookies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) margarine at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules or espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon mint extract

2 cups 50/50 flour*
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups mint morsels and dark chocolate chips  (I recommend 3/4 cup Nestlé Toll House Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels plus 1/2 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips or 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips)

* Note: You can buy this off the shelf, but I use a less-expensive homemade mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour. If you don’t have a mix ready, use 1 cup each of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour for this recipe. 

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and line baking sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.
  2. Cream margarine, butter and sugar in a stand mixer.
  3. Add eggs, applesauce, coffee and both extracts. Mix slowly at first, then scrape down sides and beat until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add to wet ingredients and blend until combined. Dough will be stiff.
  5. Add chocolate chips and mix well.
  6. Drop dough one medium cookie scoop or packed tablespoon at a time onto prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake 12-14 minutes, until set.
  8. Cool for a couple of minutes on baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chewy after cooling, these become cake-like after being stored overnight. They are best eaten within a couple of days. Store between layers of wax paper in a loosely covered container. 

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© Liesl K. Bohan  |  SavvyBaker.com

Simple Sourdough Cheddar Bagels

I’m baaaack!

Actually, I should say that Matt’s back. He’s the one who concocted, baked and photographed these tasty treats. All I have to do is share his work—and enjoy these yummy, easy-on-the-budget homemade bagels!

Once the outside temperature drops each fall and we can actually appreciate the extra heat in the kitchen, the Savvy Hubby declares it to be “bagel time,” and we all reap the benefits. Though I may have been the first to experiment with them ages ago, he’s definitely the bagel master in our house.

Suspecting that one of our Panera favorites features a sourdough base, he’s been wanting to try this combo for a while. The cheddar flavor is subtle, but the overall taste and texture are superb for breakfast, lunch or snack time. These are on the tender side, making them more suitable for sandwiches that some bagels.

Sourdough Cheddar Bagels

Makes 12-16 bagels (2 pounds)

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups sourdough starter
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons barley malt extract
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons salt

3 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid or instant yeast

2 tablespoons barley malt extract, brown sugar or molasses (for the water)

  1. Add the first five ingredients (water through salt) to bread machine* in the manufacturer’s recommended order. (These are listed in the order best suited to our machine and instant yeast.)
  2. Run the dough cycle.
  3. Lightly dust a work surface or Silpat mat with flour. Upon completion of dough cycle, turn dough out onto prepared surface or mat.
  4. With lightly floured hands, divide dough into 12-16 equal balls.
  5. Working one at a time, stick your thumb through each dough ball and rotate dough until the hole reaches desired width. Keep in mind that the hole will shrink when the bagel rises.
  6. Cover and allow to rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  7. While dough is rising, add 2 tablespoons of barley malt extract, brown sugar or molasses to a large, wide pot filled with water (about two-thirds full) and bring to a boil.
  8. Preheat oven to 400° F and cover a large baking sheet with a Silpat mat or a light coat of cooking spray.
  9. After dough has risen, carefully drop bagels into boiling water in sets of two or three. Without allowing them to touch, boil for 30 seconds on each side. Do not leave them in too long. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bagels to a wire rack or floured tea towel to drain, and then boil the next set.
  10. Once dry, place bagels on prepared baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden.
  11. Allow to cool before slicing.

* If you don’t have a bread machine, use a stand mixer instead. Toss everything in the bowl in the order listed above. Then, using a dough hook, blend on the lowest speed until ingredients form into a ball. Continue mixing for another 5 minutes, stopping to push dough back into the bowl as needed. (It tends to climb up the dough hook.) Remove hook, cover bowl with a clean tea towel and place in a warm, draft-free area for 90 minutes. Then follow the directions above starting at #3.

Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

© 2012 Liesl K. Bohan  |  SavvyBaker.com

Coffee Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

There’s just a hint of coffee in these cookies, and the toffee comes from a delectable combination of the first two ingredients: butter and brown sugar. The result is an irresistibly chewy cookie packed with a scrumptious combination of chocolate, coffee and almond meal.

As for their appearance, what they lack in attractiveness they make up for in addictiveness. Seriously. After seeing the first batch, I immediately started planning the next one in order to improve their look, but as I found myself drawn back to the cookie jar time and time again, I decided that I shouldn’t change too much. (Actually, after making a few adjustments and baking a great-looking batch that didn’t taste nearly as good, I decided not to change anything!)

Adapted from a Food Network recipe, this one contains “sneaky” whole grains, protein, fiber and a touch of fruit atypical for such treats. See if you can resist having more than one (or two) at a time!

BTW, the texture of ground flaxseed doesn’t appeal to everyone, and these cookies are still delicious when it is omitted, so choose accordingly.

Coffee Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes just over 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups 50/50 flour mix*
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

* Note: You can buy this off the shelf, but I use a less-expensive homemade mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour. If you don’t have a mix ready, use 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour for this recipe.

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and line baking sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer.
  3. Add egg, applesauce, coffee and vanilla. Mix slowly at first, then scrape down sides and beat until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, almond meal, flaxseed (if using), baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to wet ingredients and blend until combined.
  5. Add both types of chocolate chips and mix well.
  6. Drop dough one medium cookie scoop or packed tablespoon at a time onto prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake 12-14 minutes, until set.
  8. Cool for a few minutes on baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in a loosely covered container.

© Liesl K. Bohan  |  SavvyBaker.com

Orange “Cream” Scones

Subtly sweet with a hint of orange, these scones are at their best when paired with a hot drink. Given their UK heritage, tea seems most appropriate, though this variety is not particularly dainty. Indeed, these are probably better suited for a farmhouse bed and breakfast than an old-fashioned drawing room. Dense and hearty, they provide nutritional benefits via dried fruit, Greek yogurt, nonfat milk and two types of whole grains.

While the shape of these scones is reminiscent of ones served long ago at my then-favorite Cleveland coffeehouse, their flavor is adapted from the first scones I ever baked—a Sunset cookbook version with real cream. The “cream” in these is actually a fat-free yogurt and milk combo. I always think it’s an added bonus when you can enjoy the flavor without the guilt!

Orange “Cream” Scones

Makes 12

3 cups 50/50 flour mix*
2 1/2 cups rolled oats, not instant
2/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons orange peel
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2/3 cup nonfat milk
1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 teaspoon orange extract

1 cup raisins, golden raisins or currants

* You can buy this off the shelf, but I use a less expensive homemade mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour. If you don’t have a mix, use 1 1/2 cups each of whole wheat and all-purpose flour for this recipe.

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F, and cover a large baking sheet with a Silpat mat or cooking spray.
  2. Place dry ingredients (flour through salt) in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  3. Using the whisk attachment, blend until combined.
  4. Add butter and blend until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  5. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together milk, yogurt and orange extract.
  6. Add milk mixture to mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment, stir just until all dry ingredients are moistened. Dough will be stiff.
  7. Mix in raisins or currants.
  8. Working on the Silpat mat or a floured surface, form the dough into a rectangle approximately 11 x 7 x 1 inches.
  9. Cut into 12 squares (technically rectangles), positioning them at least an inch apart on the Silpat mat or baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until lightly browned.

Store at room temperature in a tightly covered container for up to three days.

© Liesl K. Bohan  |  SavvyBaker.com

Key Lime Pie Biscotti

It’s mid-winter here in Michigan, and we have the snow to prove it. This recipe features a tropical flair reminiscent of warmer, sunnier climes. Offset by the creamy sweetness of white chocolate morsels, key lime delivers a bright burst of flavor to these cookies, which I recommend devouring any time of year. (Right now, they’re especially good dunked in hot tea.)

Though I typically rely on dried fruit, nuts or an occasional sneaky vegetable to lend a boost of vitamins and minerals to my deserts, I opted for wheat germ* this time around. It was an unexpected bonus to discover that this ingredient actually brings a hint of graham cracker “crust” flavor and texture to these treats. Thanks to Chris and Chelsea for the pie that ultimately led to this recipe!

* Wheat germ is a concentrated source of several essential nutrients, including Vitamin E, folate (folic acid), phosphorus, thiamin, zinc and magnesium. It’s also a good source of fiber. (Source: Wikipedia)

Key Lime Pie Biscotti

Makes 2 dozen biscotti (including the “heels”)

2 1/4 cups 50/50 flour*
3 tablespoons wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs

1/4 cup key lime juice (I use Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice)
2 tablespoons canola oil

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

* You can buy this off the shelf, but I use a less-expensive homemade mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour. If you don’t have a mix ready, use 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose and 1 cup of whole wheat flour for this recipe.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
  2. Combine sugar, eggs, lime juice and canola oil in the bowl of an electric mixer. Blend on medium-high speed for 2 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour(s), wheat germ, baking powder and salt.
  4. Pour flour mixture into wet ingredients and blend until dough starts to pull together.
  5. Add white chocolate chips, mixing until they are fully incorporated. Dough will be sticky.
  6. Turn dough out onto Silpat mat or a work surface dusted with flour.
  7. Using wet (for Silpat only) or lightly floured hands, shape into a log about 16 inches long, 3 1/2 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick.
  8. Bake on prepared pan for 30 minutes at 350° F.
  9. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325° F.
  10. Carefully transfer log to cutting board and, using your best bread knife, slice diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces.
  11. Place slices upright on the mat or pan, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart.
  12. Bake 20 minutes at 325° F.
  13. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days. To extend storage time, freeze in an airtight container immediately after cooling.

© Liesl K. Bohan  |  SavvyBaker.com

Apple Cinnamon Bagels

Here’s a recipe that almost got lost in the holiday shuffle. Matt perfected these apple cinnamon breakfast treats just before the full-blown festivities of Christmas kicked in, and we haven’t made a batch since. Now that life has returned to a slightly less hectic pace, it’s time to start baking again. The cinnamon chips provide the perfect touch of sweetness and spice without having to use a more complicated streusel topping—a tasty solution to the streusel question posed with our Peanut Butter Banana Bagels.

Happy baking, and all the best to you and yours for a blessed New Year!

Note: Unlike our other bagel recipes, this one does not utilize a bread machine. Instead, we put our stand mixer to work, tossing everything in at once. We’re happy to report that it works beautifully! Matt said he’ll probably mix all bagels this way in the future. Our KitchenAid can hold its own against the stiff dough, and we have sometimes wondered if a particularly dense batch of bagel dough caused the ultimate demise of one of our bagel machines.

Apple Cinnamon Bagels

Makes 12-16 bagels

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups bread flour
4 teaspoons rapid or instant yeast

1 cup diced, peeled apples
3/4 cup cinnamon baking chips

2 tablespoons brown sugar (for the water)

  1. Add the first five ingredients (water through cinnamon) to the bowl of a stand mixer, and then add the next three ingredients so that the yeast is sprinkled over the bread flour.
  2. Using a dough hook, blend on the lowest speed until ingredients form into a ball. Continue mixing for another 5 minutes, stopping to push dough back into the bowl as needed. (It tends to climb up the dough hook.)
  3. Add apples and cinnamon baking chips. Run the mixer on low for another 1-2 minutes, until the apples and chips are fully incorporated.
  4. Remove hook, cover bowl with a clean tea towel and place in a warm, draft-free area for 90 minutes.
  5. Lightly dust a work surface or Silpat mat with flour. Turn dough out onto prepared surface or mat.
  6. With lightly floured hands, divide dough into 12-16 equal balls.
  7. Working one at a time, stick your thumb through each dough ball and rotate dough until the hole reaches desired width. Keep in mind that the hole will shrink when the bagel rises.
  8. Cover and allow to rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  9. While dough is rising, add brown sugar to a large, wide pot filled with water (about two-thirds full) and bring to a boil.
  10. Preheat oven to 400° F and cover a large baking sheet with a Silpat mat or a light coat of cooking spray.
  11. After dough has risen, carefully drop bagels into boiling water in sets of two or three. Without allowing them to touch, boil for 60 seconds on one side, using a long-handled spoon to ladle boiling water over the tops.* Do not leave them in too long. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bagels to a wire rack or floured tea towel to drain, and then boil the next set.
  12. Once dry, place bagels on prepared baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden.
  13. Allow to cool before slicing.

* We usually flip the bagels after 30 seconds, allowing them to boil on both sides for a total of 1 minute, but too many cinnamon chips melt that way.

Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

© 2011 Liesl K. Bohan  |  SavvyBaker.com

Christmas Biscotti

I intended to create a festive cranberry-pistachio biscotti combo last Christmas but ran out of time. Twelve months later, I finally did it! One of the advantages of waiting is that I had white chocolate chips on hand this year. I’ve been experimenting with them lately; otherwise, it never would have occurred to me to use them. Not only does the white chocolate add to the holiday color scheme, but it also enhances the overall flavor.

After sharing some of these with a recently retired chef last night, we were happy to see this comment in our inbox this morning: “That may be the best biscotti I’ve ever had.”

This is a simple recipe, requiring just five ingredients for the dough plus three add-ins.

Christmas Biscotti

Makes 2 dozen biscotti

4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups 50/50 flour*
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup roasted pistachios
1/3 cup white chocolate chips

* You can buy this off the shelf, but I use a less-expensive homemade mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour. If you don’t have a mix ready, use 1 1/2 cups each of all-purpose and whole wheat flour for this recipe.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
  2. Combine eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Blend on medium-high speed for 2 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour(s) and baking soda. Add to wet ingredients and blend until dough starts to pull together.
  4. Add cranberries, pistachios and white chocolate chips, mixing until they are fully incorporated. Dough will be stiff.
  5. Turn dough out onto Silpat mat or a work surface dusted with flour.
  6. Using wet (for Silpat only) or lightly floured hands, shape into a log about 16 inches long, 4 inches wide and 1 inch thick.
  7. Bake on prepared pan for 30 minutes at 350° F.
  8. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325° F.
  9. Carefully transfer log to cutting board and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices.
  10. Place slices upright on the mat or pan, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart.
  11. Bake 20 minutes at 325° F.
  12. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days. To extend storage time, freeze in an airtight container immediately after cooling.

If you’re in the mood to try more biscotti, here are two holiday recipes from last year:

Peanut Butter Party Biscotti

Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti

© Liesl K. Bohan  |  SavvyBaker.com

Apricot Cherry Surprise Scones

This recipe is adapted from Simply Scones by Leslie Weiner and Barbara Albright. I first tried their version almost ten years ago and was blown away by the apricot and white chocolate combination. After applying a few “savvy” changes, I’m still completely enamored with this duo, taking it to a new level in these scones by introducing Michigan dried cherries. Fantastic!

My version also includes whole grains, slightly less sugar and much less fat, because it uses evaporated fat free milk in place of heavy cream. That being said, the white chocolate “surprise” puts this into more of a dessert category than that of a truly healthful snack.

Speaking of chocolate, if you’re a purist, opt for semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips. I typically choose “real” chocolate over white, but in this recipe, I like the way the white chocolate morsels melt into the surrounding scone, especially when served warm.

Apricot Cherry Surprise Scones

Makes 9-12 scones

2 cups 50/50 flour mix*
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter cut into small pieces

1/2 cup evaporated fat free milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried apricots, snipped into small pieces
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped

* A 50/50 all-purpose/whole wheat flour combo is available in stores, but I mix my own for about half the price. If you don’t have a mix on hand, just use 1 cup each of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour for this recipe.

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and cover a baking sheet with a Silpat mat or a light coat of cooking spray.
  2. Whisk first four ingredients (flour through salt) together in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  3. Using the whisk attachment “cut” butter pieces into flour mixture, whisking until butter is fully incorporated.
  4. In a mixing glass or small bowl, whisk together evaporated milk, egg and vanilla.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry and blend with paddle attachment just until moistened.
  6. Stir in white chocolate chips, apricot pieces and cherries.
  7. Drop dough by 1/4-cup scoops onto prepared pan (for 9 easy drop scones), OR transfer dough to prepared pan, use moistened hands to form it into a rectangle (about 8 x 6 inches), and use a knife to cut the rectangle into 12 triangular wedges, just slightly pushing the pieces apart and cleaning the knife between cuts.
  8. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until edges are golden and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. (Drop scones require less bake time than wedges.)
  9. Remove to wire rack to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. If you made wedges, use a knife or spatula to gently separate them after cooling.

Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to three days.

© Liesl K. Bohan  |  SavvyBaker.com

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This blog is for sharing home-tested recipes with more whole grains, less fat and fewer calories than similar recipes. If you see something you like, or if you'd like to see more, let me know! - Liesl