Cookie Round Up 2013

How is it that Christmas is a mere handful of days away? It totally snuck up on me. I never got around to mailing my holiday cards, my tree still isn’t up, and I need to buy a few more gifts. Ahhhhhh!!

However, I did somehow manage to share a handful of cookie recipes with you–not as many as I had hoped, but a few nonetheless. So, here is a recap of the 2013 Holiday Cookie Line Up as well as links to the past couple years of line ups, all just in case you have a spare moment and need to bake up some yummy treats:

Molasses Spice Cookies

Molasses Spice Cookies

I began with these Molasses Spice Cookies. Warm winter spices in an easy-to-whip up dough and extremely yummy to inhale. Santa really loves these after he comes down the chimney :  )

Babbling Brook Cookies

Cookies from the Babbling Brook Inn in Santa Cruz…loaded with goodies

Equally easy-to-whip up but requiring an abundance of ingredients are these Babbling Brook Cookies, named after the inn that serves them. Very decadent.

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Rich and ultra chocolatey Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Chocolate lovers, these Chocolate Truffle Cookies will steal your heart! Deeply and divinely rich.

Nut Horns

Nut Horns

Utterly European and utterly scrumptious are these Nuthorns, but they require time and patience and skill. I do include a link to a similar yet easier recipe.

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

And finally, meet the fancy cousin of chocolate chip cookies: Dark Chocolate, Pistachio, and Sea Salt Cookies. If you haven’t invested in sea salt yet, these cookies provide a really, really great excuse for purchasing some.

Here are links to more cookies in case none of the above tickle your fancy:

2012 Holiday Cookie Roundup

2011 Holiday Cookie Roundup

And if you really don’t have time to bake but want some outstanding cookies to give as gifts (or to eat all by yourself), buy a box of Godiva Biscuits. One of my students gifted me a box on the last day of school before winter break, and it is freakin’ delicious!

2013 Holiday Cookie Line Up #5: Dark Chocolate, Pistachio, & Sea Salt Cookies

These dark chocolate chip pistachio cookies, enhanced with a sprinkle of sea salt, come together with ease…unless you insist on shelling pistachios rather than purchasing them already shelled.

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

Basically, these cookies are like a fancy-pants chocolate chip cookie. The typical semisweet chips get replaced with bittersweet dark chocolate chips, and instead of using walnuts or pecans, those get kicked up a notch with the use of pistachios. Best of all, though, is the sprinkle of sea salt atop the cookies. You get the sweet with a touch of the salty.

Now, go mix up a batch and treat your palate to a classy cookie with these Dark Chocolate Chip Pistachio delights. Better yet, treat someone else with a holiday gift of these cookies.

Dark Chocolate, Pistachio, & Sea Salt Cookies

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Yield: 2 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt (such as Maldon)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup bittersweet chips (I use Ghiradelli brand)
  • 3/4 cup pistachios, chopped
  • sea salt, for sprinkling on cookies

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper of silpat baking mats.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. (Here is my method to get butter to the right consistency, which makes a huge difference in the cookies baking thick rather than flat: I cut the butter into several slices first and lay them out on a plate, then I gather all my other ingredients. By the time I finish putting everything together, the butter is softened enough to cream with the sugars but not too soft to ruin my cookies.)
  4. Add the egg and vanilla; beat for 2 minutes.
  5. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Do not overmix or cookies will come out tough.
  6. Using a wooden spoon, stir in bittersweet chips and pistachios.
  7. Drop dough into 1 1/2 inch to 2 inch mounds onto cookie sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Sprinkle each mound with a touch of sea salt. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Allow cookies to sit on baking sheets for a couple minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.

Note: If you don’t want to bake all the dough, freeze the salt-sprinkled cookie mounds for an hour, then store in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer and bake as desired. Add an extra couple of minutes to the baking time if you bake them frozen; otherwise, they thaw in 10-15 minutes.

SOURCE: Two Peas and Their Pod

2013 Holiday Cookie Line-up #4: Nut Horns with Sour Cream Dough

Nuthorns. Little crescent-shaped cookies loaded with ground up walnuts mixed with sugar and egg whites. Enveloped in powdered sugar, these cookies hit the sweet spot.

Nut Horns

Nut Horns

Hubby’s stepmom, Judy, makes these, and I fell in love with them the first time we visited his family in Ohio back in 2005 and she made them for us. She gifted me the recipe, which she inherited from her mother, hailing back to a Czechoslovakian heritage. They taste very much like my favorite cookies from my Croatian heritage, so I was excited to have the recipe.

The first time I made these, they turned out HUGE, like Amazonian-sized cookies. Everyone laughed at me. The next time, I got the sizing right. I don’t make them often, though, because they are labor intensive. And there is still one element of these that hasn’t worked smoothly for me: the powdered sugar on Judy’s cookies melts into a glaze-like coating. Mine remain powdery. Still yummy, but not quite like hers.

If you feel up for a challenge, give these a try. If you want something similar yet much simpler in terms of effort, try the Walnut Pillows.

Nut Horns with Sour Cream Dough

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Yield: about 78 cookies

INGREDIENTS

Dough

  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 package instant yeast (that’s the Rapid Rise yeast)
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, cold
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp. water
  • powdered sugar for coating cookies

Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds walnuts
  • 8 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 4 egg whites

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat baking mats.
  2. To make dough: In a large food processor, pulse together flour, granulated sugar, salt, and yeast. Add cold butter, cut into small pieces. Pulse until you begin to see pea-sized pieces of dough. (You can do this by hand, too, using two forks to mix the butter into the flour.)
  3. Add egg yolks, sour cream, and water. Pulse continuously until a ball of dough forms.
  4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, placing them on a towel topped with a sheet of wax paper. Place another sheet of wax paper on top, followed by another towel (to keep dough warm). Allow dough to rise for 30 minutes (it won’t rise a lot).
  5. To make filling: Using food processor, pulse until nuts are finely ground. Add sugar and pulse until combined. Add egg whites a tablespoon at a time until filling is moistened. You don’t want the filling too loose nor too moist. It should be about right when you squeeze in in your hand the it sticks together.
  6. To assemble cookies: Roll each dough ball in powdered sugar, then use a rolling pin to flatten into a thin disc, about 1/8 inch thick and about 4 inches in diameter. Fill each circle of dough with about 1 tsp. of filling. Roll the dough into a cylindrical shape, pinch the ends, then roll in powdered sugar. Place onto cookies sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart, and form into a crescent.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Upon taking them out of oven and while still hot, give them another toss in the powdered sugar, then place on cooling racks to cool.

Note: these freeze well. Simply place in an airtight container. Judy recommends storing in tins rather than plastic, though, to prevent moisture from destroying the cookies.

SOURCE: my husband’s stepmother, Judy

2013 Holiday Cookie Line Up #3: Chocolate Truffle Cookies (from Dahlia Bakery)

Yep, I could eat that entire stack of ultra chocolatey cookies.

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Rich and ultra chocolatey Chocolate Truffle Cookies

And I would need an entire gallon of milk to wash it down.

However, I refrained. I froze them instead so I could snack on them nightly. Oops, I meant to say so I could share them as holiday gifts.

Did I mention these are the perfect solution for when a gal needs her chocolate fix? They hit the spot. They should since they have a TON of melted chocolate added to the batter, which can get quite costly if you use the quality chocolate. And you should. No cutting corners on this one. Go for the gold.

These also hit the spot when us English teachers sit home all day–literally all day–grading essays. A cookie here, a cookie there–it helps ease the pain of grading.

Most of my baked cookies came out on the flatter side, which frustrates the heck outta me. Sometimes cookies just work and sometimes they don’t. I think it has to do with the butter and how cold it is. I guess my butter was on the slightly-too-soft side. However, as the mounds of dough waited on the cookie sheets for their stint in the oven, the later-baked batches had better form. Go figure.

Anyhow, these pack a mighty rich chocolate punch. I did find them to crumble a bit and harden ever-so-slightly the next day, which truthfully bummed me out a bit. However, I froze a bunch of the baked cookies, and when thawed, they tasted great and held their shape better. Again, go figure.

Chocolate Truffle Cookies (from Dahlia Bakery Cookbook)

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Yield: 36 cookies, about 3 1/2 inches in diameter

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. + 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Penzey’s Natural High Fat Cocoa)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 pound + 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat baking mats.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. (I always sift my cocoa first to get the lumps out of it.)
  3. Place a heatproof bowl over a saucepan filled with about one inch of water. Heat the water until simmering but not boiling. Place chopped chocolate in bowl; stir until chocolate melts and is smooth. Remove bowl from saucepan; allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix softened butter and sugar until well combined.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, mixing on medium speed until each is incorporated, then increase speed to high and beat for a few minutes until mixture is very light and creamy and pale in color (this step, by the way, gives the cookies their shiny, cracked tops; I think I needed to mix mine longer).
  6. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla (do not add vanilla to hot chocolate; it will make the chocolate seize!); mix until just combined.
  7. Use a spatula to fold in the dry ingredients. Do not overmix or cookies will come out tough.
  8. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  9. Start scooping cookies as soon as batter is made. Batter will be very soft and sticky initially but will begin to firm up as it sits, making scooping difficult. Scoop out into mounds about 2 inches in diameter, placing two inches apart. Slightly dampen hand and lightly flatten each mound. While one batch bakes, allow other to sit on counter rather than refrigerate them (chilled dough won’t spread properly with these cookies).
  10. Bake until cookie tops are evenly cracked and they are soft set, about 14-16 minutes. Remove pans from oven; allow to cool on wire rack. Cool cookies completely before removing them from the baking sheets.

Note: I halved the recipe and it worked out just fine.

SOURCE: In Sock Monkey Slippers via The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

2013 Holiday Cookie Line Up #2: Babbling Brook Cookies (a.k.a. Loaded Cookies)

Babbling Brook Cookies

Cookies from the Babbling Brook Inn in Santa Cruz…loaded with goodies

Last year, I patiently waited for the holiday season to whip up these cookies, which I discovered in the summer of 2012 during our vacation. We took a road trip up to northern California, traveling the stunning and stark coastline along the famed Pacific Coast Highway (a must-do at some point in your life!). We’ve traveled this road several times but had never stopped in Santa Cruz, so our trip was centered around that laid-back college coastal town. I booked our stay at a lovely Bed and Breakfast, the Babbling Brook Inn.

Every evening, they served these fresh-from-the-oven cookies. I would sometimes make hubby drive back to the inn between our sightseeing and our dinner stop just so I could load up on these cookies because we often arrived back to our room after the lounge area had closed, and I  just had to have my sugar fix, especially with a treat as loaded and scrumptious as these were.

As always, if I taste something I like, I ask for the recipe. Usually, the person asked grants my request. Tickled pink that this particular request was graciously granted, I safely stored the recipe and patiently awaited the festive holiday season to bake them.

Holiday 2012 season arrived.

I baked.

They flopped.

I was bummed.

Problem? Too flat. That means my butter was probably too soft. Darn shame since these goodies get pricey due to all the ingredients. So I shelved the recipe for another time.

Now it is time with Holiday 2013. And this time they worked!!!

They are LOADED with goodies: hints of orange, buttery yum, two kinds of chocolate chips, chewy dried fruit, earthy nuts, hearty oats, and crunchy granola. How’s that for a cookie?!

It offers a myriad of flavors that create a punch of WOW when you take a bite. I’d say these are not your ordinary-every-day-kind-of-cookie but definitely a special-celebration-kind-of-cookie, like staying-at-a-lovely-B&B-on-vacation-kind-of-cookie or a Happy-Holiday-gift-cookie or an impressive-party-gift-contribution-cookie… You get the idea.

Babbling Brook Cookies (a.k.a. Loaded Cookies)

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Yield: about 5 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. orange zest (I put in a full tsp.)
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened (not too soft, though)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins (or dried cherries or dried cranberries)
  • 1 1/2 cups orange almond granola (or any good granola)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (I buy the thicker oats from the bulk bins at Sprouts or Whole Foods)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. Take two refrigerated sticks of butter and cut into 8 slices each, arranging them on a plate to soften while you gather the remaining ingredients.
  3. Roast nuts in a pan over medium heat for 5-8 minutes. When cooled, coarsely chop the nuts.
  4. If desired, roast oats in pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
  5. In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Set aside.
  6. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, blend butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until creamy, about 3 minutes.
  7. Turn mixer to low and add eggs, orange juice, and vanilla; increase speed to medium and beat until well mixed, 1-2 minutes.
  8. Turn mixer to low speed and add flour mixture to butter mixture; mix until just blended.
  9. In a large bowl, combine chocolate chips, raisins, chopped nuts, oats, and granola. Stir into dough mixture until just blended.
  10. Using spoon or small cookie scoop, place 1 1/2-inch mounds on prepared cookie sheet, spaced 2 inches apart, and bake at 350 degrees F for 12-14 minutes or just until turning brown around the edges.

Note: Dough keeps well refrigerated or frozen. Bake them fresh as needed.

SOURCE: Babbling Brook Inn Signature Cookies developed by Mrs. King and once featured in the 1990 issue of Family Circle Magazine, graciously shared by the current owners of the B&B during our summer 2012 trip to Santa Cruz, California

2013 Holiday Cookie Line Up #1: Molasses Spice Cookies

I actually had time to spare on Thanksgiving before departure to the food fest. So what’s a foodie gal going to do but peruse recipes?

These Molasses Spice Cookies called to me during my perusal. I tried to ignore the call. I really didn’t need to make a mess in the kitchen again.

Molasses Spice Cookies

Molasses Spice Cookies

I re-read the ingredient list. Yep, I had all the ingredients on hand.

I glanced at the clock. Yep, I had enough time.

I asked myself if I really wanted to mess up the kitchen again. Nope, but I decided to make these anyway. The lure of baking won.

And oh-my-gosh, I’m so glad I made these. So was everyone else, too, for the cookies didn’t last long. Definite keeper of a recipe.

Soft and chewy on the inside, almost fudgy-like. Crispy on the outside. A crackled surface with glitz from the sugar coating. Spicy with a hint of kick from the bit of pepper added to the ingredients. Deep molasses flavor.

Yep, so glad I made these. They earned the honor of first spot on the annual Holiday Cookie Line Up (see 2012 and 2011 if you want more recipes for holiday cookies).

Molasses Spice Cookies

Molasses Spice Cookies

Molasses Spice Cookies

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Yield: 24 cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 12 tbsp. ( 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (I used light brown)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup molasses, light or dark
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (for rolling dough balls in)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, spices, salt, and pepper until thoroughly combined.
  3. Using a mixer at medium-high speed, beat butter with brown and granulated sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Reduce speed to medium-low and add egg yolk and vanilla; increase speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds.
  5. Reduce speed to medium-low and add molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bottom and sides of bowls with rubber spatula at least once.
  6. Reduce speed to lowest setting and add flour; mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Give dough a final stir with rubber spatula to mix in any pockets of flour.
  7. Place 1/2 cup granulated sugar into a small bowl for rolling the dough balls in. Scoop heaping tablespoons of the soft dough and roll into 1 1/2-inch balls between palms of hands. Drop balls into sugar and completely coat, then place onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 11 minutes until cookies are browned, puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft. Don’t fret if the cookies look raw between the cracks and seem underdone.

Note: I refrigerated my dough balls while I cleaned up the kitchen, which hardened them a bit. I think had I rolled them in sugar first that more sugar would have adhered to them. When they came out of the oven, they seemed a bit sparse on the sugar coating, so I simply sprinkled a bit more on top right as they came out of the oven. 

SOURCE: Cooking.com via America’s Test Kitchen (is it any wonder these are so delicious considering they come from the folks at ATK!)

What’s Cooking in My Kitchen (cakes, cookies, cupcakes, mini pies, and ice cream)

With potlucks, work luncheons, and Thanksgiving on the horizon, I thought I had best get busy baking up some goodies ahead of time, most of them stocked in the freezer.

Sweet and Salty Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

Sweet and Salty Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

I have Sweet and Salty Butterscotch Pecan cookie dough in the freezer, ready for baking. These cookies receive the most rave reactions every time I share them.

Pecan Tassies

Pecan Tassies (mini pecan pies)

Pecan Tassies, bite-sized pecan pies, will grace a potluck at the gym. These freeze well in an airtight container, but that means I can easily sneak a tassie or two each night. I hope they last until the potluck later this week!! By the way, this time I added about 5 chocolate chips to the bottom of each crust before adding the filling. Extra yum!

Pumpkin Buttermilk Pound Cake

Pumpkin Buttermilk Pound Cake with Caramel Icing

A scrumptious Pumpkin Buttermilk Pound Cake with Caramel Icing, sans icing but tightly enveloped in plastic wrap and housed in the freezer, awaits Thanksgiving festivities, returning for a repeat performance after its highly successful debut last year.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

I baked Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes recently, falling in love with their espresso and pumpkin combo. Truth be told, it’s the frosting that stole my heart. I knew these would grace the table at the next salad club lunch at work, taking place this week.

Although these aren’t stocked in the freezer, I just have to share about these Apple Fritters I made recently for a book club meeting. Oh my goodness, this recipe makes the heavens sing. Check out Nicole’s post at Galley Gourmet for pics and recipe. I modified her recipe slightly, using grated apples rather than diced. I made it both ways, actually, and prefer the grated version. These are best eaten shortly after frying.

Finally, I tried my hand yet again at caramels, only to add another tale to my list of caramel woes. However, this time the caramels almost set properly. They are a bit too soft and every time I cut them, they morph back into one large blob after a few minutes. Sigh…

Since the Apple Cider Caramels still tasted yummy despite their blobby status, I decided to give the Browned Butter Caramel Stuffed Cookies a try and rescue the caramel. Failure. Sort of. I must have made the cookie balls too small and/or the caramel pieces too big; the caramel simply oozed out the bottoms of the cookies. Bummer because the browned butter cookies bake up outta-this-world-crazy-divinely-delicious and the apple cider caramel pairs perfectly with it.

As I held the tray of ruined cookies in my hand, about to toss them into the trash bin, I had a rescue idea flash into my brain: crumble the cookies and toss them into a batch of vanilla ice cream. So I did. Truthfully, I think it’s just a so-so combo, but my hubby loves it.

Vanilla Caramel Cookie Ice Cream

Vanilla Caramel Cookie Ice Cream

I tried another vanilla ice cream recipe for this, though, that hubby claims is better than his beloved Hagen Daaz. At Galley Gourmet, Nicole used the French Vanilla Ice Cream from David Liebovitz’s book The Perfect Scoop, but she modified it by adding some corn syrup and vodka. It certainly does create a soft, creamy, rich, and easy-to-scoop ice cream.

Oh, and if you ever have a ruined cake, you can try a trifle for a rescue mission. I had to do that with a burnt chocolate bundt cake a couple years ago, but I successfully turned that disaster into Chocolate Berry Trifles. I got the idea from Michelle at Brown-Eyed Baker and her carrot cake disaster rescue: Carrot Cake Trifle.

Chocolate Berry Trifle

Chocolate Berry Trifle

With all this baking, I can hardly wait for Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite of the holidays because it’s all about family, friends, and food. And I look forward to making Turkey Tetrazzini again from the broth I’ll make from the leftover carcass and all the meat I’ll get from those bones. It ranks as one of the most delicious savory recipes, I think, to come out of my oven.

Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini

What’s your favorite food at Thanksgiving? Try asking that at the dinner table. Not one person said turkey the year someone posed that question! My favorite: my mom’s sauerkraut. Or maybe Ladera’s stuffing.

Okay, only 11 more days until Turkey Day!! Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday filled with gratitude.

Lemon Cup Cookies (and a blueberry surprise within each one)

Lemony goodness in a shortbread cup! Even better when you tuck a sweet blueberry inside.

Lemon Cup Cookies

Sweet, tart, and utterly scrumptious

I took the sugarless lemon curd that I posted about a few days ago and used it to fill shortbread cups baked in a mini muffin tin. The sweetness of the shortbread offsets the tartness of the lemon curd, creating a perfect pairing.

The blueberries lounging in the fridge beckoned me when I reached for the lemon curd, so I thought I’d try popping one into each shortbread cup before filling it with curd. Turned out to be a great idea. Not only do you bite into a tender and sweet shortbread crust, but you bite into a sweet and fruity blueberry as well as get a mouthful of tart lemon curd. Loads of flavor bursts!

Lemon Cup Cookies

Parbake the dough, then press wells into each cookie

Lemon Cup Cookies

After making wells in parbaked dough, drop a blueberry surprise and then fill with lemon curd

Lemon Cup Cookies (and a blueberry surprise within each one)

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (I’m sure you could use only all-purpose flour for the recipe although I haven’t actually tried that)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (meaning you can easily squish it between your thumb and forefinger, leaving an impression but still have some resistance)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon extract (or 1 tbsp. lemon zest)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup lemon curd (store-bought or see homemade recipe, included in link as well as below)
  • powdered sugar for sprinkling after cookies cool (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the two flours, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
  2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the oil, egg, and extracts to the butter/sugar mixture; beat until blended.
  4. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture; stir until combined.
  5. Cover and chill dough for about an hour in the refrigerator.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Drop about a tablespoon of dough into each muffin well, then bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes. Remove from oven, and press a well into each cookie. It will be hot, so use the flat end of a wooden spoon or something that you can press into the cookie with. I tried the end of a wooden spoon and found it rather narrow. Then I tried my magnetic lid lifter from my canning equipment, which worked out a bit better. I also tried my tamper, and that seemed to work best. FYI: I experimented with making the wells first, before baking, but this dough rises when baked, so that didn’t work well.
  8. Now that you’ve made a well in each cookie, fill with lemon curd. Remember to drop a blueberry into the well first if you want the blueberry surprise (I even pushed the blueberry into the soft dough on some of them). Pop the pan back into the oven and continue to bake for another 4-8 minutes, until cookies are firm and lightly browned on sides. If you take them out too soon, the cookies will simply fall apart if the dough is not sufficiently baked. Cool for a few minutes, allowing cookies to set, then remove to wire racks to continue cooling.
  9. When cookies are completely cool or right before serving, sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar for a decorative effect.

SOURCE: adapted from Barbara Bakes

Sugarless Lemon Curd

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon (or substitute 1 tsp. lemon extract)
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 egg and 2 egg yolks

DIRECTIONS

  1. Set up a double boiler. I do this by placing a glass bowl over a pot filled with about 1 inch of water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Heat water to a gentle simmer, but make sure it doesn’t boil.
  2. Cut butter into pieces and add to bowl. Also add lemon juice, zest, salt, and honey. Whisk until butter melts, then remove bowl from pot.
  3. In another bowl, whip egg and yolks until well blended. Slowly stir eggs into lemon juice mixture, then return bowl to top of pot with simmering water. Stir continuously until a custard forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat once custard thickens.
  4. Cool curd, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will thicken some more. Curd will last a couple weeks.

SOURCE: Traditional Foods via Gourmande in the Kitch

Cranberry-Orange Macadamia Butter Cookies

CranOrangeMacNut

Cookie Contest Voting — help my cookies win the contest!

Click the above “Cookie Contest Voting” link and find the Facebook Fan Page link at the bottom,

then from there follow directions for voting.

Update: a friend let me know that she couldn’t locate the voting…maybe it isn’t set up yet???

Several months ago, I kept getting emails from a “virginiaplantation” that my posts were “liked.” Well, I’m not current with the world of social technology (just too much to keep up with and figure out at this point in my life but maybe someday), but I knew this had something to do with the social network. Eventually, curiosity led me to the virginiaplantation website, where I discovered a husband and wife team, Brett and Michelle, gearing up to open a bed and breakfast in West Virginia, Belle Grove Plantation. I found their endeavors interesting, so I began following their blog. Additionally, their proposed B&B isn’t too far from my mother-in-law’s place in WV, I think, so I’m hoping to one day see the fruits of their labor.

As they neared what they hoped to be an opening date, they announced a cookie contest, with the winner’s cookie to be slated as the B&B official cookie for the year, provided to guests each evening. Cute idea to have a contest, I thought. I knew I wanted to enter just for fun and to show support for their efforts. The original date of the contest was back in February, so nearly every weekend in January I was testing out variations of cookies, some of which are still living in my freezer, by the way. Most were duds, but I finally hit upon one I was happy with, which just included some minor additions to a recipe I had already posted and loved, the Macadamia Nut Butter Cookie. I added orange flavoring and some spices to jazz it up a bit.

I had the recipe typed and the pics uploaded, all ready to enter the contest, but then the contest was postponed. No biggie since I had my entry ready to go. However, the new deadline was right after we got home from our big trip, and I was consumed with trip preparations beforehand; hence, I nearly forgot to enter the contest! Luckily, I did remember.

But then promptly forgot about it as we enjoyed our exciting trip to South America. Lo and behold, I got an email announcement yesterday that my entry made it to the top 10 list! Woo hoo!! So excited!! From this point, the contest is open to the public for voting. Although it would be fun to win, I’m thrilled to have made it to the top ten. So, here is how the voting will work, and you can participate (copied from the email they sent):

We will announce the top ten cookies…on both the blog and Facebook page…On Facebook, we will create a special album with the top ten cookies…We will encourage our fans of the blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumbler and LinkedIn to go to our Facebook page and blog to review the cookie recipes.

To vote they will need to:

1.       Like our Facebook Fan Page

2.       Go to the album and Like their favorite cookie.

The voting will start on Saturday, April 13th at 12:00am and continue until Sunday, April 21st at 11:59pm.

So, if you would like to participate in the voting, just click the link here to get started: Cookie Contest Voting.

Or, if you want to make the cookies, here is the recipe:

Cranberry-Orange Macadamia Butter Cookies 

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Soft & chewy cookies with slightly crisp edges and a mouthful of buttery, nutty flavor balanced by the sweetness of cranberries and the freshness of orange flavoring. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 5.6 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tsp. orange extract (or 1 1/2 tsp. orange zest)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, for coating cookies (can also add 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, too, for a slightly altered flavor)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  1. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, salt, and nutmeg; set aside.
  1. Place macadamia nuts in a food processor; process until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl once or twice (do not eliminate the scraping step; scraping and re-processing helps draw the oils from the nuts, which are needed to keep the cookies cohesive when mixing & baking).
  1. Combine macadamia butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until combined, about 1 minute.
  1. Mix vanilla, orange extract (or zest), and egg; lightly beat. Add to dough mixture and beat until mixed, about 1 minute.
  1. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed until combined and dough begins to progress from looking like small crumbs to looking like several big chunks of crumbs (it’s okay if dough isn’t fully cohesive). Stir in chopped cranberries. Chill 10 minutes, covered. (I actually slowly add the cranberries into my stand mixer while it is mixing the dough.)
  1. Place approximately 1/4 cup of granulated sugar in a small bowl for dipping cookies into before baking. For large cookies, about 3 inches in diameter: Divide chilled dough into 15 equal portions, about 1 1/2 tbsp. for each cookie; roll each portion into a ball about 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Press each ball of dough between palms of hand to flatten it into a disc 1/4 inch thick. Lightly dip each disc into the sugar on both sides to coat it. Place cookies on prepared cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 11 minutes or until lightly golden. Fro small cookies, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter: divide dough into 30 equal portions, about 1 inch in diameter. Press flat between palms, place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart, and bake for 9 minutes.
  1. Remove cookies from oven, cool for a couple of minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies small cookies or 15 larger cookies

Notes: Baked cookies freeze well. I simply place them in an airtight container, then pop the container into the freezer.

SOURCE: slightly adapted from Cooking Light magazine, December 2009 issue

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

BananaOatmealChocChipSometimes when I get bored with making banana bread from those over-ripened bananas sitting on the kitchen counter, I’ll make these Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies instead. With the natural sweetness of bananas, the recipe lightens the sugar load, making me think it’s okay to scarf on bunches of these (hah!).

Sweetened with banana, made hearty with oats, and perked up with chocolate chips, these cookies satisfy the sweet tooth at only 115 calories each, according to Cooking Light magazine, which is where I found the recipe. So, if you want something other than banana bread to make from those mushy bananas, give these cookies a whirl.

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup mashed bananas (about 1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups (5.6 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats (the thicker kind; I buy from bulk bins at Whole Foods or Sprouts)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets by lining with parchment paper of silicone baking mats.
  2. Combine bananas, brown sugar, butter, sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl; beat with mixer at medium speed until smooth.
  3. Add egg; beat well.
  4. In another large bowl, whisk flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Add to banana mixture; beat at medium speed until well blended.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-18 minutes, or until golden. Cool for two minutes, then remove from pan onto cooling racks; cool completely.

Yield: 2 dozen

SOURCE: Cooking Light magazine, July 2009 issue