Okay, first, just a quick note that I’ll have a guest post appearing over at The Book Smugglers later today. It’s a month-by-month best-reads-of-2012 type of post, and thus is a bit similar to my recent post here on Best Everything for 2012. But it’s definitely not identical, so click over and take a look at it if you like.
Keeping a list of books bought / books read has made such a difference to me; I’d never be able to remember anything if I didn’t write it down. It’s really interesting to see how my reading breaks down for the year. For example, about 75% of the books I buy get read in same year I buy them. I would have thought the proportion would be smaller. And I thought these days I read almost all fantasy and very little SF, but The List makes it clear I still do read quite a bit of SF.
How well do you remember what you’ve read? And, if you had to pick a top-five list of books you read this year, what would be on it?
And while we’re on the subject of Smugglivus, let me just say that there are lots and lots of guest posts over there this month, many very much worth reading — Smugglivus is where I find out what great books are coming out next year, for example. Angie at Angieville says that we can expect both a new Mercy book from Patricia Briggs and a new Kate Daniels book from Ilona Andrews — good news for me, since those are my two favorite paranormal / UF writers. Plus there’s apparently an intriguing book coming out called A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn, which is abut “a scandalous flapper exiled to Africa.” Doesn’t that sound fun? It was Angie who gave me a pointer to The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen, and that sure turned out well, so probably I’ll try this one.
And here’s another post I appreciated: Andrea K Höst, a self-published author whom Ana describes as “a talented self-published writer of awesome Sci Fi and Fantasy novels” — which makes me want to pick up something of hers, it’s so amazing to hear from a blogger I trust about an “awesome” self-published author — gives an overview of all of Diana Wynne Jones’ books. You know, there are still a few I haven’t read? Amazing, isn’t it? Someday I will complete my set.
Okay! Now! The promised cookie recipes:
I have two great intensely chocolate cookie recipes, both of which are very popular with tasters.
CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE COOKIES
4 oz unsweetened chocolate — I use Ghirardelli
1 C semisweet chocolate chips — I use Callebaut or Ghirardelli
1/3 C butter
1 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C flour
2 Tbsp cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C mini choc chips
Melt the unsweetened chocolate and the 1 C chips and the butter together in the microwave, stirring every thirty seconds. Cool ten minutes. Beat sugar and eggs for two minutes. Beat in vanilla and chocolate mixture. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Stir in mini chocolate chips. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.
Roll into 1″ balls, place on parchment-lined baking sheets, and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until lightly puffed and set. Try not to overbake — err on the side of taking them out a bit early. Let cool on sheets 3-4 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. These cookies freeze very well.
CHOCOLATE NUT TRUFFLE COOKIES
1 C butter, divided
1/4 C heavy cream
2 Tbsp honey
6 oz chocolate chips — again, I use Callebaut, which I buy in 22 lb bags, which is quite cost effective as far as great chocolate goes.
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C powdered sugar
2 1/4 C flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg — yes, really; unless you’re a supertaster, you won’t actually be able to tell it’s in there, but it adds a different kind of depth.
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 C toasted pecans, coarsely ground
Combine 1/4 C butter, cream, and honey in a saucepan and heat to a simmer. Add the chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Cool slightly.
Cream remaining butter with powdered sugar. Beat in chocolate mixture. Combine flour, nutmeg, and salt and stir in. Chill 1 hour. Shape into 1″ balls and roll in pecans. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets and back at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes.
And! As a bonus!
Commenter Elaine Thompson contributes this recipe, which I certainly must try:
ABSOLUTELY DEEP DARK CHOCOLATE FUDGE COOKIES
(From Death by Chocolate, by M. Desaulniers)
!/2 C cocoa
8 oz semisweet chocolate
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
3 C semisweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 C all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 C tightly packed light brown sugar
12 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
Note on ingredients: We use Bendsdorp’s Dutch cocoa, the recipe specifies Nestle cocoa. Substituting Demerara sugar (or similarly coarse brown sugar) changes the texture in a way I like. We use either Ghirardelli chocolate or Scharffenberger. For these cookies we use pure Tahitian vanilla. And I almost never have unsalted butter on hand, and don’t notice a difference when I do use it. (although our daughter the supertaster probably would but she doesn’t eat these because of the mixed chocolate & cocoa.) Not in the official recipe, but we add sometimes to punch up the flavor: ¼ tsp powdered instant coffee.
These can be tricky to bake – they’re easy to overcook, and In Our Humble Opinions taste best soft, not hard. [I would definitely agree that all these cookies should be barely baked through — R]
Preheat oven to 325F.
Melt the 4 oz unsweetened chocolate and 8 oz semisweet chocolate together. Set aside.
Blend the sugar and butter in mixer, add eggs, vanilla, salt, soda. (I’m skipping all the add one, mix x seconds, scrape down, add something else. As well as sifting all the dry ingredients together, which I never bother with.) Carefully pour in the melted chocolates as well as the cocoa. Mix well, and add the flour, then the 3 cups of semisweet chips. The batter tends to be pretty stiff, and I’m glad I have a good stand mixer to mix it. [Note: I don’t! I keep meaning to get one! I suggest that if you don’t have a great stand mixer, simply do the last part of the mixing with your hands — R] Mix as well as you can.
“Portion 6 – 8 cookies per baking sheet by dropping 2 level tablespoons of batter per cookie onto each of the 2 baking sheets.” Or use your usual cookie scoop and do it the usual way. Bake 18-22 minutes – even 1 tablespoon cookies do tend to take about that long. [I make all my Christmas cookies very small, because they’re pretty that way and because I want people to feel free to eat more than one cookie — so I’ll probably be using a tsp scoop and guessing about the timing — R]
“If a nocturnal lust for chocolate has you making furtive movements towards the kitchen, I suggest a few Absolutely Deep Dark Chocolate Fudge cookies, each one dipped into your favorite chocolate ganache. It is a fact that this confection will assuage even the most passionate chocophile regardless of the hour.”
Even for us, adding the ganache is a bit much.
I bet! But I may try it anyway!
Okay, everyone, enjoy!