Category Archives: Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s amazing just how comfortable chocolate chip cookies are. Any time I am looking for a quick something to make, they tend to be the first in mind.

I have been experiencing a crisis of motivation recently. Outside of some peanut butter-jelly thumbprint cookies, I haven’t made much of anything for the last month or so. A lot of it has been time – lots of things going on – but a fair amount has been energy. I tend toward worry-wartism, and I seem to have forgotten how sapping it is to worry about things one cannot necessarily impact at the moment. It seems I have also forgotten one of the most basic lessons I have learned so far in life: never let anything take away your passion.

So I decided to bake this morning, and it’s chocolate chip cookies. They’re quite rich, but so very good. When I first started making them years ago I would eat a whole batch (2-3 dozen) in a matter of a day or two (and that’s with my mom making me put them away frequently). I have already posted the recipe with some photos, so I won’t repeat that in its entirety.  Apparently I have not posted the recipe here yet. Strange – I know I have some pretty nifty old pictures of the process. Ah, well. Here’s hoping sharing cookies will get me back into the groove of things.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

10oz chocolate chips (I prefer Guittard semi-sweet)
2 1/2 cups unsifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375°F. Sift flour together with baking soda and salt, set aside.

Cream butter with sugars in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Gradually add in sifted dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips.

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At this point I tend to put the cookie dough into the fridge for 30+ mins so that it’s easier to scoop. 

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Spoon or scoop the mixture onto a lined cookie sheet, about 2″ apart. Bake for 9-11 mins, or until golden brown.
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Cinnamon Roll Cookies

It would seem, from this post and my previous one, that I am on a cinnamon roll kick. I don’t know about that – to my knowledge I haven’t had a particular craving for them. That being said, these cookies are pretty awesome.

A few words of advice first:

  • Make sure the dough stays cold when you work with it in the rolling phase. I briefly stuck mine in the freezer, which made it much easier to handle – just don’t stick it in there too long
  • Roll the dough as tight as you can so that it takes the proper shape when sitting in the fridge. If you roll it loose, and you need to adjust it after it’s cut so that it doesn’t look horribly demented, you may end up breaking it and making it more demented.
  • An offset spatula is your friend any time you’re spreading butter on dough. Makes the process about 300x easer.
  • Do not let your dough sit out – just like most flaky pastry things, they’ll get less flaky and slightly more sad if you forget that you’re waiting for the oven to preheat for half an hour.

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

from Bakers Royale

Dough
2 cups + 2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp light corn syrup (I used agave)
1 tsp vanilla

Filling
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar

Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tbsp milk

Sift together first four ingredients for the dough (through salt) and set aside.

Place 1/2 cup butter, granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until light in color. Add in egg yolk, applesauce, corn syrup and vanilla, and beat to combine. Turn off mixer.

Using a sturdy silicone spatula or wooden spoon, fold in flour mixture until just combined. Dough may have some flour streaking – that’s fine; do not over-mix. Divide dough in half and wrap in waxed paper to refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place remaining 1 tbsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Remove one wrapped dough. Dough will be sticky so place it between two large pieces of wax paper and roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Spread 1 1/2 tbsp softened butter over dough, then sprinkle half of the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture over it and gently press it into dough. Roll up dough, beginning with the long side. Place roll seam side down on the wax paper or plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Place rolled dough back into the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes. Repeat with second batch of dough.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove chilled dough from fridge and cut into 1/2-inch slices and place 1-inch apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

To make the glaze, sift the powdered sugar and add in 1 tbsp milk at a time until drizzling consistency is achieved. Drizzle tops of cookies with glaze and let stand at room temperature until glaze dries completely.

Store cookies in air-tight container for best keeping.

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Pfeffernüsse

There are days when I don’t feel like baking. It usually comes from a place of being tired – not enough sleep, feeling icky-sicky-gross, having too many things on my plate. This week it’s been just being dog tired. The kittens are actually letting me get some sleep, which is very much appreciated, but my mind seems to have not quite caught up. Silly mind – tricks are for kids.

I just wasn’t going to bring anything in to work on Thursday as far as baked goods went – didn’t have time, and really didn’t have ingredients. I was down to my last egg. So why not get some more rest and wake up slowly and in a leisurely fashion?

Well, it comes down to this: If I am really interested in running a bakery, having my own business, I can’t just say, “Eh, I don’t feel like making anything today…” and expect to stay in business. It just doesn’t work that way. I need to know that I can be consistent in my baking, and follow through with a commitment – even if that commitment is all in my head. It’s not like I’m being paid to bring things to work, and while people enjoy the presence of baked goods, I don’t have anyone who comes to the office specifically for the baked goods. But I have made a commitment to myself that I will follow through with bringing baked goods to the office twice a week in a consistent manner to help myself explore different recipes and presentation style as well as help me grow personally in achieving a consistency in this portion of my work and personal life. This is a commitment to myself to follow through and see what I can do when I put my mind to it.

The long and short of it, then, was that I resolved to make something. But what can you make with just one egg? A bit of a conundrum, you see, since most cookie recipes require more than one egg, and I did need to make a minimum number of offerings so that they would last throughout the weekend. All cakes were out, pretty much, as well as brownies; same with most cookies. Even biscotti require 2-3 eggs depending on the recipe.

So I turned to my trusty BonAppetit Desserts book, which I just happened to have on-hand, and challenged myself to find a recipe that I could do that would fit my requirements. I almost went with shortbread, which doesn’t require eggs – but the ones that sounded the best were things like Italian Hazelnut-Espresso Shortbread and Almond Shortbread. Those are the two nuts I -don’t- have – I have walnuts and pecans and more walnuts and 1/4 cup slivered almonds. I have more nuts than I usually have, just not the ones I want!

The recipe for pfeffernüsse caught my eye. I had attempted to make it a few years ago to rather disastrous results, so I wanted to take a second chance at it. I’m very glad to say that I have figured out how to make that hard powdered sugar coating on the outside of cookies. I just couldn’t figure it out before ><

Pfeffernüsse

from Bon Appetit Desserts

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp crushed aniseed (this was the one spice I lacked – but it didn’t feel lacking without it. Of course, I’m not a fan of the flavor)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses
1 large egg
2 cups (approx.) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Whisk flour, spices, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and molasses in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, then stir in flour mixture.

Roll dough into 1tbsp balls (or using a cookie dough scoop) and place balls on baking sheet about 1.5-2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown on the bottom and just firm to the touch, about 14 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to rack and cool cookies on sheet for 5 minutes.

Place powdered sugar in brown paper bag or lidded plastic container. While still warm, drop 2-3 cookies into bag or container; close and shake gently to coat cookies with sugar. Transfer sugar-coated cookies to racks. Repeat with remaining cookies. Serve warm or at room temperature.


p.s. – The photo is most unfortunately not mine – that would belong to The Gourmand Mom.

Banana Oatmeal Bars with Chocolate Chunks

Most of my cookbooks have come from the clearance section of book stores. Sure, I have a few that I paid a pretty penny for, but the reality is that I will likely only attempt a small portion of the recipes – why pay $40 for that?

One a recent jaunt over to Barnes & Nobles, we bought a couple more books: Bon Appetit Desserts, 631 pages of luscious desserts, and The New Way to Cook Light. Mikal loves Cooking Light magazine, and has been encouraging me to take a look at what they have for years. The first thing I did when we got the books home was flag all of the recipes I plan on trying; both books have dozens of flags sticking out of them.

In Bon Appetit Desserts, I came across a whole section of bar cookies. For some reason I can’t quite identify, I seem to be really interested in  trying to make bar cookies. Prior to this, I really hadn’t made bar cookies. It just hasn’t been something I wanted to do – probably because I love my cookie scooper. Ever since I discovered that thing and got one that held up, my scoop and I have been the best of buds when it comes to cookies. (Prior to scoop, I rolled cookies by hand from a spoon – but they’d always be too small because larger rolled dough balls always felt too big. As you can guess, I also had major consistency issues, and that’s not something you want from a pseudo-bakery, right?)

But back to bar cookies. Suddenly I have this funky burning passion to  attempt bar cookies. Add to that a brunch of the most amazing banana bread french toast (you must try it, you must you must~!), and you get this week’s recipe. Really I was looking for banana bread muffin cookies to see if I could somehow replicate the french toast experience in bite size, but I found this first and it seemed to work well enough for my banana craving.

Personally, the next time I make this I would nix the chocolate, or perhaps just do a light drizzle over the top; the breading around the chocolate had a wonderful flavor, a little delicate, but the chocolate just railroaded it in my opinion. Could have also been that I made it with Nestle chocolate chips – I inherited 3 giant bags of it, so I figured I would start in on those. It turns out I may be a bit spoiled by Guittard chocolate. Oh well.

I also substituted walnuts for the original pecans… again, on the banana bread kick.

Banana-Oatmeal Bars with Chocolate Chunks

from Bon Appetit Desserts

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup mashed ripe bananas, about 2 large
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz chocolate, cut into pieces (or chocolate chips)
1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped

Preheat the oven 350°F. Butter and flour a 15x10x1-inch baking sheet. (I put down parchment paper first – made getting them out much easier.) Blend flour, oats, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until well-blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas, then vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, then chocolates and nuts.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted in center comes out clean and the top is golden, about 45 minutes. Cool in pan on rack, then cut into bars.

Non-Traditional Gingerbread Cookies

When it comes to baking, I’m something of a neophile – I have a few recipes that I’ll go back to time after time to make, but I love discovering new ones. I’m one of those people who stockpiles tons of recipes that look delicious and I swear I will one day make. Mikal has tried a few times to give this idea structure – we bought a few cookbooks at Borders at one point, and he had us go through and flag the recipes we thought we might want to make, with the intent of one-by-one going through and making them; never happened.

This is how it came to be that when I had all of my recipes, ingredients, and batches planned out for my gifting this year that I discovered the following recipe while looking up another – and added an impromptu 4 batches of it to my load. Luckily, it turned out to be a less-buttery substitute for my usual Orange-Cardamom sugar cookies. To me, the recipe just looked interesting – a gingery citrusy cookie to add to the bunch. It turns out that this particular cookie has great structural integrity, and would make AMAZING gingerbread houses. You know how most gingerbread houses taste like the incarnation of evil?  Not very gingery, harder than rock after sitting out a day, and might as well be moldable cardboard. These have a wonderful flavor, and while they don’t stay soft after they cool, they soften right up in your mouth – keeping the structural integrity one needs for a house, while ensuring that you’ll be able to eat it later as long as you don’t use glue in the icing. You really don’t need to mix glue in the icing, by the way – just use royal icing.

Ginger-Orange Stars
from BonAppetit

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup robust/dark molasses
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp grated orange peel
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until well-blended. Beat in molasses, egg yolk, orange peel, and vanilla.

Sift dry ingredients into medium bowl, then add flour mixture to wet ingredients and beat until just blended. Gather dough into a ball. Divide into 3-4 pieces, flatten each piece into a disk, and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Chill dough until cold and firm, at least 4hrs.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Roll out one piece of dough on a lightly powdered-sugared surface (using powdered sugar rather than flour keeps the dough from getting too dry/floury, and also minimizes the discoloration one sometimes gets on cookies from over-flouring.) and roll to 1/4-3/8″ thickness. Cut out cookies in desired shapes and space 1/2″ apart on cookie sheet. Gather scraps and re-roll dough until pan is adequately filled. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. Completely cool cookies on rack prior to icing.

Royal Icing
2 egg whites (this is why it’s good to do a double batch of cookies)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
2.5 cups powdered sugar

Place egg whites in a clean, dry mixing bowl and whisk until loosened, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar and beat on medium-low (my mixer has 10 speeds and I was at 3) until slightly frothy, 1-2 minutes. Add powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments until incorporated. You will likely have to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything gets in. Once the icing looks like something you would want to have on a cookie (you’ll understand what I mean when you make this – when it’s first getting  mixed together it looks horrid, but once the sugar is fully incorporated it looks like a slightly shiny creamy whiteness), the icing is ready to use. At this point you can separate into different bowls and add coloring, then put into a piping bag. For storage, if the icing is not in a piping bag, cover with plastic wrap with the plastic touching the surface of the icing – that way it doesn’t harden. If it’s in piping bags, just stopper both ends (paper clips for the back end work nicely – you don’t actually have to stopper the front end unless it’s likely to leak while it’s in the fridge) and toss in the fridge. I’m not sure how long the icing will keep this way – I revisited mine after a week and it was fine.

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