Polenta cookies with rosemary and olive oil

Yield 30 cookies

Ingredients
1 ½ cups (7.5 oz.) all-purpose flour
½ cup (2.5 oz.) polenta
1 t baking powder
¼ t fine sea salt
½ cup (3.5 oz.) granulated sugar
½ cup olive oil (use a fruity, flavorful oil as it will stand out in this cookie)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 cup (4 oz.) confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Adjust your oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions if you plan to use two cookie sheets. If you’re only using one, then center a rack. Preheat a standard oven to 375 degrees or convection oven to 350 degrees F. Line your baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl and set it aside.

Whisk the granulated sugar and oil together in a large bowl, then add in the eggs one at a time. Sprinkle in the rosemary and incorporate- the resulting mixture should be smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the flour mixture until a soft dough is formed (it will come together in one large, cohesive ball). Drop one-tablespoon balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet(s), spacing them about two inches apart.

Bake the cookies until the edges are lightly golden and the tops are split. This will take about 13 minutes in a standard oven, and 11 minutes in a convection.

Let the cookies cool on the sheet(s) for five minutes before giving them a tumble in confectioners’ sugar in a shallow dish. You will be doing this while the cookies are still a little warm and the remaining steam emitting from the slightly cooled cookies will help that sugar to stick. Set dusted cookies on a rack to finish cooling, or scarf serve warm.

If you serve these cookies warm, the limonene terpene in the fresh rosemary will fool your taste buds into thinking they’re lemon cookies even though there’s not a drop of lemon in them. If you keep the cookies out on a cooling rack for several hours, they will continue to dry out and transition from being a little cakey, to being crispy on the outside. The air-dried cookies made me think of eating pre-packaged powdered doughnettes (except way the heck more flavorful [and healthy!]).

Adapted from a recipe posted on America’s Test Kitchen.

Cocoa Cupcakes

Spring gatherings always necessitate a wow! dessert and the bigger the crowd, the more obvious it becomes that the perfect solution is cupcakes.  Cupcakes are easy to make, can be decorated in a variety of ways (or not at all), and allow the eaters to remain mobile (and social).

This particular cupcake is rich and dense, chocolaty, and has a tight crumb.  It strikes the perfect balance of sea salt, cocoa, vanilla and coffee.  If you ever ate Drake’s Cakes Devil Dogs as a kid, these cupcakes will take you right back to that special place in your memories (hopefully you eat it a little slower though, and savor it with a cup of coffee or a nice glass of red wine).

The options for toppings are endless, but primary candidates include fresh whipped heavy cream, whipped coconut cream, or a light buttercream.  You could also get really crazy and go for a peanut butter frosting for over-the-top decadence.  For my latest function I topped about half of the batch with coconut cream and left half plain.

Ingredients

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose gluten-free flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon finely ground coffee

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup flax milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 12-cup muffin pan with baking cups.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a medium sized bowl.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, then sprinkle in the coffee granules. With the mixer on a medium speed add the eggs one at a time, beating until each  is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla. At low speed, alternately beat in the dry ingredients and the flax milk.

Use a number 2 scoop to transfer the batter into the baking cups. Bake the cupcakes for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for five minutes, then remove them from the muffin tin and transfer to a cooling rack.