Posted by Megan | Dessert, How-To's & Tricks

We had the best week last week, thus why you got no new recipes, faithful readers. On Wednesday, we went into downtown Seattle to watch the women’s soccer team, Seattle Reign FC, play their second-to-last season game against the Boston Breakers. Their games are right in the Seattle Center, so we had the privilege of getting to watch not only the game, but to see the sun set over the Space Needle as the night went on. The night was a special one at the pitch, too, because it was a celebration of women’s sports in Seattle. They had players from the women’s basketball team, the Seattle Storm, and gave out free scarves that supported both teams, emblazoned “ReignStorm.” Thankfully, we did not have a rainstorm that night, and watched Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo and the rest of their teammates take on and beat the Breakers. We’re excited to return to see them play in their first playoff game in a couple weeks!

We also got the chance to see the local minor league baseball team play through PLU night, which was fun! There’s few things less American than hot dogs, beer and baseball and despite not being huge baseball fans, we still had a fun time. We got decked out in our new Lutes gear and blended right into the crowd around us. We also finally experienced our quintessential Northwest “rain” while at the game, where we briefly got sprinkled on before it disappeared again. The home team won and we would consider going back again for PLU night again next year. Also also, we went out for happy hour with one of my coworkers and her husband this week to an awesome bar called Hilltop Kitchen in a part of Tacoma that was new to us. We thoroughly enjoyed the company and the beverages/snacks and would eagerly return to the location. Hilltop was the perfect blend of cool and accessible and extremely appropriate for 20-somethings. It was also really fabulous to get out with new people and to socialize like real “adults,” something we have very rarely done due to being perpetual students. It was really nice, in fact!

 

So you can see why I ran out of time to post at the end of each day! As a result, (fingers crossed) you will be bombarded this week with all the delicious things, starting with these cookies. Will had been begging me to bake for him and I have really only made muffins since arriving in Tacoma, so I felt I owed it to him to make something he would love. I turned to my girl Sally and voila! The perfect recipe presented itself to me. All the things Will loves – toffee, cookies, sea salt and new ingredients. I asked for his assistance in chopping/de-seeding the vanilla bean and being the curious kitchen dweller he is, while I was busy whisking and whipping up cookie dough, he decided to take the leftover vanilla bean shell and the extra vanilla bean I had bought (just in case something went wrong the first time!) and make a simple syrup out of it. We both ended up happy, as the cookies turned out perfectly AND we had a new, ah-mazing simple syrup for mixing into our ice cream and coffee. Even Oscar seemed to enjoy the fact that I had made a toasty warm batch of cookies, especially since it’s already feeling like fall in the PNW!

Sea Salt Toffee Vanilla Cookies (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction; makes 4 dozen cookies)
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp bourbon vanilla extract
Seeds scraped from 1/2 a vanilla bean
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups Heath toffee bits
Sea salt, for topping

In a large mixing bowl, use a handheld electric mixer to beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed, until smooth and creamy. Add the granulated and brown sugars, then beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and vanilla bean seeds on high. Scrape down the sides, as needed.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt goethe until well combined. On low speed, slowly mix the the dry ingredients into the wet, until combined evenly. Fold in the toffee bits with a rubber spatula, until mixed in well. Cover bowl and chill for 3 hours or overnight.

After dough has properly chilled, allow to sit out on a counter for 10-20 minutes to soften slightly. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with silicone baking sheets. Using a 1″ cookie drop, scoop dough into balls and place 12 per cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt, pressing into tops of balls as needed. Bake cookies for 10 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the sheet before moving to a cookie rack to finish cooling. Eat or store and enjoy!

Recipe: Sally’s Baking Addiction: Salted Vanilla Toffee Cookies

Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup
1 full vanilla bean
1 vanilla bean shell
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Begin by cutting your full vanilla bean in half, then scraping the seeds out of each side. Add water, sugar, vanilla bean seeds and pod shells in a medium pot, bringing to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer, lowering to medium then medium-low heat, until reduced and thickened. Store in an airtight container for use – recommendations include ice cream and coffee. Enjoy!

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