Archive for Cookies

PB Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

This is the biggest week in my medical school career.

On Thursday, I find out where I am employed for the next four years of my life, where I will make my lifelong connections, where I will train to be the best possible physician I can be. At noon, my entire class will open our envelops containing the destination we’ve worked so hard to get to for the past four years. We’ll find out how far away we’ll be leaving one another. There will be tears of happiness and tears of sadness.

The thought of it makes me want to vomit.

Which is where this cookie cake comes in!

From the moment I saw this on Ellie’s blog, I knew I’d be making it in a time of turmoil. It looked comforting, inviting, and warm. And after all was said and done and I was eating my first slice, I knew it was exactly what I needed. The butterflies in my stomach vanished for a moment as I filled it instead with chocolate, peanut butter, and marshmallow goodness. How could I be stressed with a mouthful of what tastes like unbaked cookie dough?

Unfortunately, in my moment of need last night I polished off more of the cake than I anticipated. I’m not sure how I’m going to tide my nerves between now and Thursday now!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
adapted from Almost Bourdain

Makes 1 9″ cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 c smooth peanut butter
  • 1 c lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 c chocolate chips (I used 60% cacao)
  • 1 c minimarshmallows

Instructions
Preheat oven to 355F. Grease and line a 9″ circular cake pan. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla for 1-2 minutes or until well combined. Add in egg and beat another minute on medium speed, scraping down sides as needed. Switching to low speed, mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and marshmallows with a spatula. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan before running knife around edge. Then cool in pan for at least 4 hours before turning out and serving.

 

What kind of week are you having?

Advertisements

DB – Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies

There’s something about the term panna cotta that makes me think of some fancy restaurant dessert. I imagine candlelight, soft romantic music in the background, a waiter attentive to my every move, and a check that makes me thankful I’m not paying.

So when panna cotta was this month’s DB challenge, I was a little bit apprehensive – until I read the actual recipe! It’s even easier than making its down-home counterpart chocolate pudding. The whole thing was whipped up and in my fridge in a quick 15 minutes. And, let me tell you, it tasted wonderful. Creamy, chocolate-y, and with a tiny adaptation of adding the zest of an orange to the cream, it had a little something extra.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada de Laurentis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

(I did not include the cookie recipe in this post, please see Mallory’s blog for that. I made a similar cookie for my Lace Cannolis last month though!)

Chocolate Panna Cotta
adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes 4-6, depending on size.

Ingredients

  • 1 c whole milk
  • 1 tbsp unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1 orange
  • 2 c whipping cream
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Instructions
Pour milk into a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Set aside to sit 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice off the peel of the orange in big chunks, trying not to get any of the bitter white pith underneath. Set aside the flesh for garnish later. Place a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and add in cream, orange peel, sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a low boil, then strain out orange peel. Pour mixture back into saucepan and add in the chocolate, whisking until melted. Whisk in the gelatin until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour into ramekins and chill overnight or 6-8 hours before serving. Garnish with orange segments and florentine cookies.

Have you made anything “fancy” lately?

Chocolate Macarons

I don’t think of myself as a Type A personality. You know the type, the need to micromanage, to have complete control, for everything to be “just so.”

I don’t think of myself as a Type B personality either. I’m not the laid back, surfer, come what may, “que sera sera” type.

I’m somewhere floating between the two, in a weird combination of acting one way when most people would act the other. I’ll give you a few examples.

With countertops, I’m Type A. They must be clean at all times. Not a crumb. And I can’t stand left-behind twist-ties or the little plastic ring that you have to pull off the milk container before you can consume it. Throw them out or I go crazy.

With dishes, however, the things that are most likely to breed bacteria and cause smells, I’m more “whatever.” They can sit in the sink for a day or two and I don’t mind one bit.

With planning vacations, I’m Type A. Completely Type A. I have to remind myself to schedule in “free time” or we’d be running around like chickens with our heads cut off. I budget, I compare prices, I shop around for the best deals, I research the weather, the local customs, find things to do off-the-beaten-path. I run the show.

With school, I’m Type B. I know when things are due and yet I often save them until the last minute. I do the bare minimum these days, just enough to get by, not even really concerned with getting Honors (the medical school equivalent of an “A”) anymore.

When Boy mentioned that I hadn’t made macarons in awhile, I was Type B. “Oh! You’re right! I should make a batch sometime.” And that sometime ended up being weeks after the fact. I wasn’t in a rush.

But when the egg whites were aged and it came down to it, I turned into a Type A monster. I read and reread the instructions umpteenth times, I watched videos over and over again to make perfectly sure I knew how stiff my peaks needed to be, I measured and measured again, careful in ever movement, worried that I’d ruined their feet before they were even in the oven.

Macarons still elude me in many ways. I’ve had success with them in the past but I’ve also had failure, and I have not been able to decipher what went right or wrong in either case. These? They had feet. Beautiful feet! But one pan completely fell once I took them out of the oven, the feet becoming miniscule, and they didn’t seem to want to come off the pan no matter what. The other pan didn’t fall quite as much but after chilling and upon serving, it seemed the center wasn’t as cooked as I’d hoped. Instead of a crunchy outside and a soft inside, the inside was much more dense and it seemed I had put gobs of ganache on. There was no space of air between the top and the insides. They looked perfect, but they were not (although they were, of course, delicious because gobs of ganache can never ever taste bad).

In my quest to have perfect macarons every time, this was another semi-fail but it was still delicious and I will try the same exact recipe again in the future. With macarons, it’s the technique and not really the recipe so it’s worth a shot to try the same recipe multiple times. The ganache was definitely a win though!

Chocolate Macarons
adapted from LA Times and David Lebovitz

Makes 24-30 sandwiched macs.

Ingredients

For shells:

  • 1 1/3 c blanched almond meal
  • 2 c + 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/2 aged egg whites (3-4 large, at room temperature after sitting out for a day or 3-4 days in the refrigerator)

For ganache:

  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Instructions
For shells, Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Strain together almond meal, powdered sugar, and cocoa into a large bowl. Whisk to blend. Set aside. Beat egg whites using an electric mixer over low to medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed and continue beating until the peaks are glossy and medium-firm. Fold in the dry ingredients in 3 or 4 additions until just incorporated. It will be runny and look like cake batter.

Spoon half of the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a half-inch round trip. PipeĀ  1 1/2 inch rounds by keeping the bag vertical and 1-2 inches above the sheet. Keep 2 inches in between rounds. Rap the pan against the counter and repeat with the second sheet. Allow sheets to sit for 30 minutes while preheating oven to 425F.

When ready to bake, dust macarons with extra cocoa powder and place each individual baking sheet atop a second spare sheet. Place in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 350F. Prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the macarons are just firm to the touch. Transfer to a cooling rack and bring the oven back to 425F for the second sheet of macarons.

Once the oven has been reset, remove the first set of macarons from the parchment. I did not do this but LA Times suggests pouring a little hot water onto the baking sheet underneath the paper and tilt the sheet to dampen the parchment evenly. Let sit for 15 seconds and then peel the macarons off.

For ganache, Heat heavy cream and light corn syrup in a saucepan until just bubbling around the edges. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Allow to sit for 1 minute before stirring until smooth. Stir in butter. Cool to room temperature before using.

For assembly, Match macarons up by size. Spoon or pipe ~ 1 tsp of ganache in the center of one macaron bottom. Sandwich with second macaron and press gently to spread ganache to edges. Refrigerate at least 24 hours, taking macarons out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to serving.

Love them feet.

Apricot Jam Cookies

Wind.

It’s freezing outside right now. The cold wind whips your hair into your face and slaps you hard. It is unrelenting, unforgiving, and chills you to the bone. After a couple days of relative warmth, days when the growing pile of snow actually began to melt away, the dreaded winter came back with a vengeance.

I am not amused, Winter, not amused at all.

Those two days you gave us, that little taste of a warmer and happier time, they were a tease. I was ten times more productive than I am now. I ran errands with a smile on my face. I didn’t have to religiously apply lotion to my dry, cracked hands. I didn’t have to sit shivering in my car waiting for it to warm up before I break out of my hunched, freezing position.

And now?

Now I’m sitting inside, moping with a cup of tea in my hand.

Now I’m munching on these tiny bites of buttery, gingery perfection.

I suppose I should be angry with you, Winter, for forcing me back indoors to wrap myself in blankets and try to hibernates some more. But you know what? I’m happy because these cookies are absolutely, positively delicious and had you not turned your back on me yet again I would not have been inspired to make them to accompany my steaming cup of Earl Grey.

SO THERE!

You all know how I loves me some Dorie Greenspan. Flipping through her book, I always find a new recipe to try, perfect for the mood I’m in. These cookies certainly did the trick. The addition of ground ginger gives it a warming spice and the delicate sweetness of the apricot jam make it a perfect pairing for a cup of tea. Friends asked if the flavors were orange, it’s so difficult to decipher what the taste is though you know it’s delicious. The cookie is balanced, takes minutes to whip up, and is a wonderful bite for a snack, for tea, for dessert, for battling the cold, or for whatever your heart desires.

Apricot Jam Cookies
adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours

Makes ~45 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c apricot jam (I used preserves.)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 375F, positioning two racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, ginger, and salt. Set aside. Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter for a minute or so. Add in sugar and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Mix in the egg, beating until well-combined. Add the milk and vanilla and mix. It will look scary and curdled but don’t fret, it’ll come together. On low speed, beat in the jam or preserves. Finally, add in the flour mixture and mix until the flour just disappears. You’ll have quite a thick dough.

Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of batter approximately 1 inch apart onto the baking sheets. Bake the sheets for 15 minutes, rotating them from top to bottom and front to back halfway through (if you remember – I did not and the cookies turned out fine). Allow to cool on the sheet for 1 minute before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough once baking sheets are cooled.

Are you having good weather? If so, I’m jealous.

Chocolate Crinkles

We’ve been having game night lately in my circle of friends.

It started off as a holiday exchange game brought in several board games that we couldn’t wait to try out. A little friendly competition can’t hurt, right?

Well now it’s become an all-out boys versus girls war.

Three times in the past month, we’ve rolled up our sleeves, put on our game faces, and have played Taboo and Cranium until the wee hours of the morning. The losing team is never satisfied with the result and the winning team can’t help but be greedy for more bragging rights.

Two game nights ago the girls lost for the first time to the boys in Taboo. Unheard of! Girls are better communicators, aren’t they? Better at using their words? But, alas, the stars aligned in the boys’ favor at the end of the night.

So I came up with a new strategy. Bring irresistible cookies to stuff the boys’ mouths with. Give them a distraction that they’ll never see coming. A sneak attack. A modern-day Trojan Horse.

And I give you Exhibit A.

A cookie Boy and I first discovered at Panera the night before this fated Game Night #3. A cookie Boy fell in love with and happily munched on while I was secretly plotting. I had found the cookie to make them weak in the knees, defenseless from the fudgy chocolate with a crunchy outer layer and a gentle dusting of powdered sugar! These came together in just an hour from start to cooled so they were easily made while Boy finished up some work at the hospital before we were off to the Games. (By the way, I’ve also been reading the Hunger Games series – I’m on book #2 – and so I’ve gotten even more competitive. What a great read!) And as the boys downed the cookies the girls steered clear. Perhaps they knew my strategy. Perhaps they were just watching their figures. But at the end of the night, the girls were again crowned victorious and that’s all that matters.

As one teammate put it, swinging her arms in a happy march/run motion and in a sing-song voice, “We are awe-some! We are awe-some!”

If you’re looking for a cookie to stop traffic with its delicious chocolate-y-ness, one simple to make with ingredients you likely already have on hand, this is the cookie for you.

If you’re looking to win Game Night, this is the cookie for you.

If you’re just looking for an awesome cookie, this is the cookie for you.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Makes 24-30 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar in a bowl, set aside
  • 1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter and sugar together for 3 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs one at a time, mixing for one minute after each addition. Add vanilla and beat thoroughly. Switching to low speed, add in flour mixture. Beat until just combined, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.

Take teaspoonfuls of dough and roll into a ball. Roll in powdered sugar to coat and place on prepared sheets approximately 2 inches apart. Bake sheets one at a time for 10-12 minutes. Cool on sheet for five minutes, then move to wire rack. Continue with remaining dough.

Do you have Game Night? What do you play? What do you eat?

Lace Cookie Cannolis

January is kicking my butt.

I’m sleep-deprived, gym-deprived, friend-and-family-time-deprived, and generally life-deprived. It took some planning, brainstorming, and baking at random hours of the night, but I managed to eek out some delicious baked goods this past week and can’t wait to share them with you.

But first, the new feature!

This Week I Ate

  • Annie’s Zuppa Tuscana. This soup was easy enough for a weeknight dinner but was extremely filling and satisfying. The kick of cayenne was a perfect complement to the creamy base and the hearty kale. It looks like a thick heavy soup but it’s mainly stock and white wine based which definitely offers comfort without making you hit food coma right afterward. Loved it!
  • Trader Joe’s Stuffed Pork Loin with Spinach (and some cheese.. I think feta but I don’t remember). Boy made this. Just as a side, when Boy makes dinner it’s either one of two things at all times. 1: Trader Joe’s, or 2: pasta with doctored up jarred sauce. He’s gotten pretty good at doctoring things up adding fresh veggies, herbs (we owned a basil plant for awhile until he let it die), or even white wine. This pork loin was quite delicious too. I heart Trader Joe’s.
  • and a whole lot of hospital cafeteria food. Such is my life.

Ever since I came up with the resolution to create a new recipe each month I’ve been brainstorming ideas. The goal of the resolution was to start learning how to make other baked goodies besides cupcakes which, up until now, has really been the only branch of baking I’ve felt comfortable tinkering around with. So this month I didn’t set any limits on myself. I set out to find inspiration.

On my interview trail (what we call the interview season between November and January when most residency programs hold their interviews), I began to treat myself to a baked good while traveling back home. After a long day of interviewing (our days usually go from 7.30 or 8am until 2 or 3 pm), the only redeeming part of the day would be finding a nearby bakery and finding something wonderful to nosh on.

One particular interview in the Bronx brought me to Conti’s, home of a wonderful cannoli I just couldn’t turn down.

And because we’re meant to be together, literally the next day Boy and I were discussing what I could make and he suggested something to do with cannolis.

Mind you, we are not exactly an Italian, cannoli-eating couple.

So then it had to be done.

It’s not exactly a completely original recipe but the idea is all mine. Baby steps, people!

The crunchy, slightly nutty lace cookies are a perfect complement to the ricotta cannoli cream dotted with chocolate shavings. Sometimes I find cannoli shells a bit too sweet for my taste but these flavors worked really well together. For a nice dinner, you can make napoleons or for something a little more casual you can form the lace cookies into taco shapes and make little cannoli tacos!

I’m quite proud.

 

Lace Cookie Cannolis
a STO original of sorts

Ingredients
For lace cookie
(adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod, originally from Essence of Chocolate):

  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 c unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For cannoli cream (STO original):

  • 3/4 c ricotta, full-fat preferred
  • 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1/4 c heavy cream
  • 1 oz semisweet chocolate, shaved

Instructions
For cookies: Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, salt, and oats in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer, mix together butter, cream, corn syrup, and vanilla. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix.

Drop 3/4 tsp of batter onto baking sheets leaving 2 inches all around each cookie as they spread in the oven. Bake 7-9 minutes or until golden. If molding into taco shapes, balance a wooden spoon atop 2 glasses turned upside-down. Once cookies come out of the oven, while they’re still warm, carefully drape over the wooden spoon handle into a taco shape and allow to cool in that position. Otherwise, allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for about 2 minutes before transferring to a rack.

For cream: Fold together ricotta, confectioner’s sugar, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream to stiff peaks. Then fold heavy cream into ricotta mixture. Finish by folding in shaved chocolate.

For assembly: For napoleons, layer 3 same-sized cookies with 2 dollops of cannoli cream. Top with extra cream.

Is your January out of control?

 

Homemade Oreos

I’m starting a new feature on my blog called This Week I Ate…

With the new year and my impending first salaried position coming this July, I’ve decided that now more than ever I need to put myself on a budget and cook more meals. I used to cook quite a bit in my first two years of med school but long hours in the hospital during third year definitely lent itself to eating out a lot more and sometimes just going to bed without eating, too tired to put in the effort.

But I’m turning a new leaf! And to keep me somewhat accountable, I’m going to document the things I make here. However, since this was never meant to be a blog about what I had for dinner, I often don’t have the patience to photograph hot food before I dig in, and I currently don’t have much of a desire to start making up my own recipes in that field, this will just be a side project. More of a bullet point list with a small review.

Like this!

This Week I Ate…

  • Xiaolu’s Boy-Approved Spiked Pasta (Spaghetti with Vodka Cream Sauce). It was certainly Boy-approved on my end as well. I used ground cayenne pepper instead of the crushed which gave a lot of kick but to quote Boy, “I think cayenne is your secret ingredient. You can make everything taste good with it!” And I agree. (So do the Neely’s if you ever watch them or make their stuff.) The sauce was easy for a weeknight meal and I had everything on hand already! Also, since med school started I’ve seriously lost my ability to imbibe so there’s a lot of vodka in this place that is taking a very long time to consume.
  • Sara’s Baked Fish Sticks with Tartar Sauce. One of my few attempts at making seafood (it scares me for some reason?). I’ve made these before and while the fish sticks are great and healthy and you should probably make these for that reason alone, the real star here in my opinion is the tartar sauce. Boy agrees. We could dip anything into that sauce and it’d be delicious.

Okay. Onto the recipe. I’ve made these Oreos three times now (2 of those time in my preblogging days) and they never ever disappoint. How could they? They’re OREOS for crying out loud. It’s no secret I’m a fan as evidenced by these, this, and these. But making them from scratch just adds that extra element of love and handmade kitsch that elevate these to a whole new level. The filling tastes nearly identical to the store-bought brand and the wafers are not overpowering in sweetness. I’m in love.

Homemade Oreos
adapted from smitten kitchen, originally from Retro Desserts

Makes 25-30 sandwich cookies.

Ingredients

For wafers:

  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg

For filling:

  • 1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 c vegetable shortening
  • 2 c sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
For wafers: Preheat oven to 375F and prepare line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a food processor or with an electric mixer, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing or on low speed, add in the butter and egg until the dough comes together in a mass. Place rounded teaspoonfuls of batter onto prepared sheets about 2 inches apart. With moist hands, gently press down on dough to flatten tops slightly. Bake for approximately 9 minutes, rotating once. Let sheets cool on racks.

For filling: Cream together butter and shortening using a stand or hand mixer. Then slowly add in the sugar and vanilla extract. When combined, beat on high for another 2-3 minutes or until fluffy.

To assemble: Find two cookies similar in size. Pipe or spread about 1 tsp of filling onto the bottom of one cookie. Create a sandwich by pressing the bottom of the other cookie into the filling, gently working the filling to the edges of the cookies. Voila!

Have you recreated any childhood favorites lately?

Dorie’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

How is everyone’s 2011 going so far?

I imagine most of you, like me, headed back into the daily grind after the excitement and days off for and during the holiday season. This morning was not pretty, friends. Not at all. I had to hastily eat a bowl of cereal while warming up my car for not nearly enough time because I slept in a little too long. And, friends, my stomach is not yet back into the zone of not having food readily available at a moment’s notice. So I spent much of the morning (and afternoon) hungry while chasing after my residents and trying to meet and understand all of my new patients.

I told you. Not pretty.

But things are looking up since these cookies were waiting for me when I got home.

There was absolutely, positively NO way I was starting off the year without chocolate chip cookies. I believe it’s the only way to get things moving on the right foot. Don’t you? And who better to turn to for a cookie recipe you can count on besides Dorie Greenspan? No one. Essentially, making these cookies was a no-brainer. Another plus? The dough doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It always bothers me when I have to refrigerate cookie dough. I can almost taste them in my mouth.. and then I have to wait an hour before that actually happens. Such a tease. Especially if you sneakily ate some of the dough and can already tell it’ll rock your world. I know I’m not the only one who does this.

Can I get an AMEN?!

Chocolate chip cookies. Doing favors to slightly cranky Monday work-goers all over the world.

 

Dorie’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Baking from My Home to Yours

Makes 40-45 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2/3 c packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 c bittersweet chocolate chips (or 12 oz chocolate chopped into chips)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 375F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter for about 1 minute or medium speed until smooth. Add sugars and beat another 2 minutes. Add in vanilla followed by the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in thirds, mixing just until combined before adding another third. Add in the chocolate. At this point you can also add in 1 c finely chopped walnuts or pecans but I don’t like nuts in my chocolate chip cookies so I omitted this step.

Spoon tablespoonfuls of dough onto prepared sheets. Leave about 2 inches around each cookie. Bake 10-12 minutes or until the edges are browned (rotate pan halfway through). Allow to cool for 1 minute on the pan before transferring to a rack.

What’s the first thing you made in 2011?


 

Spiced Brown Sugar Cut-Out Cookies

I love the holidays, don’t you?

Although I’d like to think I’m a pretty giving person, this is the time I pull out all the stops.

Like the holiday potluck I threw last night. I decided to throw it together a week ago at the last minute.

I decided I’d make a pot roast for the first time.

And I’d finally make little giveaway frosted sugar cookies for the first time.

And I’d make homemade caramel for the first time.

And I’d make three different types of mini-cupcakes so everyone could finally taste them instead of just me and Boy.

Lofty goals.

But it somehow all came together despite the busy of everyday life and my next few posts will be dedicated to all the treats I managed to pull out of my kitchen this past week, starting with these sugar cookies!

I’ve wanted to make these for a long time, especially since Annie is essentially my idol and she makes cute ones all the time.

So I went out hunting for cute cookie cutters and came home with everything I needed to make little snowmen and snowflake cookie packages.

The process takes quite a bit of time (took me a whole day) when you’re starting out. I presume that as I get better and better at piping things will go much more smoothly. If you’re starting out too and are aiming for perfection, I definitely suggest setting aside a good chunk of time to do everything.

These spiced brown sugar cookies are perfect if you’re looking for something different and unexpected for the holiday season. Adding the spices and the brown sugar to the mix definitely make these cookies feel warm and comfy. I also loved how this recipe didn’t require you to refrigerate the dough (though you could if you wanted to) so the whole baking process went by pretty quickly.

For frosting, I used this tutorial which I find to be extremely helpful. I finished things off with a little bit of decorative sugar, wrapped them up with snowmen/snowflake treat bags, and placed them all in a snowman/snowflake decorated tin. As guests left the party, they could either pick one up at the door or I’d hand it to them. Such a nice way to say, “Thank you for coming!” (And to show off your skills.)

Spiced Brown Sugar Cut-Out Cookies
adapted from Bake at 350, seen on Annie’s Eats

Ingredients
3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer cream together butter and both sugars on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined. Mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Turn dough out onto work surface and knead slightly if it is too crumbly. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out shapes as desired. Place shapes on baking sheets. Bake one sheet at a time for 9-12 minutes. Allow to cool for several minutes on the sheet prior to moving them to a cooling rack.

Note: Dough can be refrigerated as a ball/disk prior to rolling it out or as already cut-out shapes for at least several hours provided it is covered tightly in plastic wrap in either scenario.

Royal Icing
adapted from Annie’s Eats

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp meringue powder
  • 5 tbsp water
  • 4 c powdered sugar, sifted

Instructions
Combine ingredients in a large bowl fitted to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 7-10 minutes or until the sheen has disappeared and the icing is matte.

Transfer to an airtight container. Add water, mixing thoroughly by hand, a little bit at a time until the consistency is appropriate for piping, meaning liquid enough to pipe but stiff enough that it won’t spread. Divide into various airtight containers depending on how many colors you want to use. Color icing using gel coloring (if using liquid, you will need to cut back on water or add powdered sugar). Transfer some of the icing into piping bags fitted with an appropriate tip (I use Wilton #2 and #3 tips) and cover the remaining icing. Pipe around the edges of each cookie and allow to dry for at least an hour. Then, water down the remaining icing a bit more until it is appropriate for flooding, meaning able to spread but not so thin that it will take forever to dry. Using squeeze bottles, fill the cookies. Allow to set and then decorate with the piping bags.

See the tutorial that I used on decorating cookies at Annie’s Eats here!

What are you bringing to the holiday parties you’re attending this season?

Un-Classic Snickerdoodles

Brother Bear left late Saturday night to go back to law school.

(Are we the only people who still occasionally use Berenstein Bears names?)

Anyway, my little brother went back to school earlier than we all would have liked.

And, yes, I know he’s 22 now, can vote, can imbibe legally, and can be drafted, but he will always always be my little brother.

He’s all I got in terms of siblings and we’re only 2 1/2 years apart so we’re pretty close. He’s a strong-willed little fella’ but, for me, he’ll drop mostly everything if I ask. I’ve heard his friends comment more than once that they could never imagine him as a “little” anything but the second I’m around they understand.

This is not to make him sound like a sad little puppy around me. We just have a better relationship than most siblings. My parents thought he was developmentally delayed for a while because he didn’t speak until he was two. Why, you ask? Big sister (that’s me, by the way) doted on little brother soooo much he never had to speak!

You get it. We’re Brother and Sister Bear of Berenstein Bears fame.


But we don’t get to see one another much anymore since he’s away becoming a lawyer of sorts and I’m still chasing that doctor dream.

So when we were both home for the holiday of Thanks there was a lot of laughter and silliness. But when he announced that he had to leave Saturday night to go study (my parents’ house is a black hole of unproductivity largely due to the big screen television) there was certainly some disappointment.

My immediate reaction?

I jumped up and said, “Wait! I’ll make cookies!”

And wait he did.

Because he’s my little brother and always will be even if he lives miles and miles away now.

These cookies are fantastic if you’re in a rush. You don’t have to bring the butter to room temperature since it’s just melted and they bake up in just 7 minutes. No stand or hand mixer to wash either! 2 bowls, 1 plate, a whisk, and a spatula (along with your measuring tools) are all you need. The most time-consuming part is the rolling etc but once you get into a rhythm it really doesn’t take long at all and is quite enjoyable.

The result? A beautifully soft, fluffy cookie that’s rich (the two sticks of butter may have something to do with that) but not so rich that you don’t want to eat five more right away . I call these “un-classic” because they don’t contain cream of tartar which is largely thought to be essential to provide a snickerdoodle with that little “bite.” These don’t have a bite. Do I miss it? Not really. But in case you would, know that these are biteless but completely delicious in their own right.

Save this recipe for a rainy day. You likely always have all the ingredients on hand and they take no time at all!

You’re welcome.

Un-Classic Snickerdoodles
adapted from the Kitchn

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies depending on size.

Ingredients

For Cookies:

  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 heaping cup dark brown sugar, unpacked
  • 1 c white granulated sugar
  • 3 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For Rolling:

  • 1/4 c white granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Instructions
Preheat oven to 425F. Take out baking pans but leave unlined (or line with parchment paper for easier cleanup).

For Cookies: Melt butter in microwave and set aside to cool while making the rest of the cookie batter. Stir together dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Then whisk eggs into melted and slightly cooled butter. Add vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.

For Rolling: In a shallow plate, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Form 1 1/2″ balls of cookie dough, then roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Place each ball onto baking sheet and flatten slightly. Space cookies about 1 1/2″ apart. Bake for 7 minutes and then cool on the pan.

Don’t forget! Today’s your last day to enter for STO’s first giveaway! Contest ends at midnight TONIGHT.

What’s your go-to cookie in a jiffy?

« Previous entries