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Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category

68 Days of Gourmet: Day 23

I made these cookies as part of my holiday package for Operation Baking Gals. This is an organization that I’ve been participating in since the last holiday season. Check out what I baked for the other rounds here and here. Rather than me try to explain the organization, I’ll just give you a blurb from their Web site.

“Baking GALS (GALS stands for Give A Little Support) is a group of volunteer bakers from around the country who bake and ship homemade goodies to our heroic military men and women who are currently deployed in a war zone. Our goal is to show our support and send a little bit of home to remind them that we appreciate all that they do for our freedom.”

Basically, the way is works is that someone (usually a blogger) forms a team to host a soldier. Then they recruit people to join their team and bake. I’m so excited to report that there were 47 teams for this round of Operation Baking Gals. That’s seriously amazing! I joined Team Beantown Baker – hosted by fellow blogger, Jen. Check her awesome blog out here.

We baked for Rebecca. She and her husband Brian are stationed in Iraq. She still has about a year left in her 18 month deployment. Rebecca and Brian met in basic training and were married last Valentine’s Day. Our team baked for Rebecca and another team baked for Brian! I hope they’re enjoying all their treats :)

Rebecca and Brian

I decided to go with sturdier cookies for this round. I browsed through The Gourmet Cookbook and looked for recipes that said the cookies would keep for 5 days plus. Pecan Sables sounded nice and holiday-ish and I also picked Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that recipe!

The Pecan Sables were crisp and had a lovely balance between salty and sweet. The ground pecans in the cookie batter provided a nice nutty flavor. These are simple and delicious.

I tried a new packing method for this round. I wrapped the cookies in sets of two in cling wrap, then placed them in sandwich bags and then layered the sandwich bags in plastic containers. I have high hopes that they will arrive in tact and fresh tasting!

I was dreading the trip to the post office today to send off my package. I was shocked to discover that the post office was rocking – they had a system down and were fully staffed. It was a great experience. Once I got through the hustle of getting in and packing up the cookies in the APO flat rate box, I found myself waiting in line fighting back tears. It was such a juxtaposition that I was standing in the post office in the holiday hustle and bustle while Rebecca is serving our country and spending her holidays in Iraq.

I will be hosting an Operation Baking Gals team in 2010. One our friends is being called back into active duty to go to Afghanistan. I encourage you to participate with me. I will share the details when I have them. I will also be helping fellow blogger Tracy with a round in 2010. Her brother is currently serving in Afghanistan as well.

And now for the recipe…

Pecan Sables
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook, published in Gourmet November 2002)
Printable Recipe: Pecan Sables

Ingredients:

3/4 cup pecans (3 ounces), toasted and cooled, plus about 32 pecan halves (3 ounces)
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, separated
Special equipment: a 2-inch round cookie cutter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter 2 large baking sheets.

In a food processor, pulse toasted pecans with 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar until finely ground. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat together butter, remaining 2/3 cup confectioners sugar and vanilla on high speed until fluffy and lightened in color. This should take about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk and beat well to incorporate. Slowly add flour and pecan mixture on low speed and mix until just combined, about 1 minutes. Dough should be crumbly but hold together when squeezed.

Halve dough and roll out half between 2 sheets of wax paper until 1/4 inch thick, about a 9-inch round. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible. Arrange 2 inches apart on baking sheets, reserving scraps. Roll out and cut remaining dough in same manner. Gather scraps, then re-roll and cut again.

Beat egg white until frothy and brush tops of cookies lightly. Place a pecan half on top of each round and brush pecan lightly with egg white.

Bake cookies for about 15 to 20 minutes, until tops are lightly golden. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 2 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Yield: about 32 cookies

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 20

The beautiful thing about 68 Days of Gourmet is that my options are wide open. When a food magazine is in publication for 68 years you can be sure that they probably have a recipe for most anything you’re craving.

We picked up a Christmas tree on Sunday. We planned on decorating it Monday and I thought I’d bake some cookies to be festive and go with our eggnog (and because I love any excuse to bake cookies). One of our favorite cookie combinations is Oatmeal Chocolate Chip. I’ve tried several different recipes in the past and decided to try Gourmet’s recipe since I’m in the middle of 68 Days of Gourmet.

This recipe was super simple. The dough was made and ready to go in the oven in less than 10 minutes. The cookies smelled great cooking and were the perfect treat for holiday decorating! These are great and we’ve enjoyed having them around the house this week.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
(Recipe source Gourmet, March 1994)
Printable Recipe: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and oats in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a hand-held mixer) cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy and lightened in color, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and then slowly beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips after flour has been incorporated.

Drop dough in rounded tablespoons onto baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 12-15 minutes (I only baked mind for 9 minutes because we prefer soft and not crisp cookies), or until golden. Cool completely on wire racks.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Yield: 5-6 dozen (Recipe can easily be cut in half)

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angelbars

Behold, Dream Bars (also known as Angel Bars apparently). So according to Joy of Cooking (my favorite cookbook ever) they have sold many copies of their cookbook over the years “on the strength of this recipe.” How could I resist trying these when they tell me that? I was intrigued, especially once I read the ingredient list.

I think the best way I can describe these is pecan pie-esque with coconut and a lemon glaze. I know that sounds strange but somehow it works. First you make a shortbread-type crust and bake it. Next you spread the pecan/coconut mixture over the crust and bake again. And finally you top it with the lemon icing. It’s quite an addictive combination.

I don’t think these will go into the regular baking rotation in my kitchen but I will make them again. If you’re a nut and coconut fan you will definitely like these!

Dream Bars (Angel Bars)
(Recipe source Joy of Cooking)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CRUST
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

FOR THE FILLING
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
2 large eggs
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

FOR THE ICING
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Have all ingredients at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 11 x 17 pan with aluminum foil, leaving about a 2 inch overhang on the narrow sides. Spray with cooking spray.

Beat together butter, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla until fluffy and well blended. Stir in flour and knead until blended and smooth.

Firmly press dough into pan into a smooth and even layer. Bake for 10 minutes, set aside to cool.

Place the nuts and coconut on a baking sheet in a thin layer. Bake for about 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the coconut is very lightly browned.

Beat together the eggs, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla on medium speed until well combined. Stir in the nut and coconut mixture. Spread evenly over the crust and bake for about 20-25 minutes. The top should be firm and golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out slightly wet.

Stir together the icing ingredients (adding a tablespoon of water or two if necessary to make spreadable) and spread evenly over bars while they are still warm.

Let the bars stand until they are completely cool. Lift the foil out of the baking dish and carefully peel from sides. Cut bars into squares.

Yield: about 12 bars

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oatmealraisin

Oatmeal raisin cookies are my FAVORITE. Seriously…if I could only eat one kind of cookie for the rest of my life it would be oatmeal raisin. I love them thick and chewy on the inside and a little crisp around the edges. I tried this recipe from Smitten Kitchen a few months ago and I  think it’s great and have made it several times since.

Most recently, I made them for Round 8 of Operation Baking Gals. This is a great organization where you join a team to bake for our troops overseas. I participated in Round 6 over Christmas and found it very rewarding. Here is my post explaining the organization and what I baked last time.

The soldier that we baked for this time was stationed in Iraq and has a wife and new baby at home. My package had oatmeal raisin cookies, peanut butter cookies and lots of other goodies (granola bars, mac and cheese, magazines, etc) .

If you’d like to do something for our troops overseas, I highly recommend joining a baking team at Operation Baking Gals!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
(Recipe source Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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

Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. On medium speed, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and lightened in color (1-2 minutes). Add eggs one at a time and vanilla until smooth.

Reduce mixer speed to medium-low and slowly mix in flour mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and nuts.

Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before scooping onto a cookie sheet. Make sure they’re about two inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Take them out when they’re beginning to get golden around the edges and look a little undercooked in the middle.

Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

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chocbiscotti

I made this Chocolate Biscotti along with some Strawberry Scones to send to my grandmother for her birthday last month. The biscotti holds up well when shipped and has a longer shelf life than regular cookies. My grandmother told me she stuck them in the freezer and takes one out when she wants a snack.

This was my first time making biscotti. It was fairly easy and I think it makes a great gift. It’s pretty versatile and can be enjoyed as a snack, dessert or even breakfast (hey, some people like it with coffee!). My husband would be one of those in the “Chocolate is okay for breakfast” camp.

I’ll definitely be making this and other biscotti recipes in the future.

Chocolate Biscotti
(Recipe source Proceed With Caution, originally from Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours)

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (followed recommendation to replace with cocoa powder since I didn’t have espresso powder)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped almonds, blanched or unblanched (or about 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or 3/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
Sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat butter and sugar on medium speed until lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Mixture may still be crumbly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, add eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed. Return mixer to low speed and mix in the dry ingredients in three additions. Mix only until dough comes together.

Mix in the chopped nuts and chocolate and turn dough out onto a work surface. Divide dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll dough into 12-inch-long logs. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high and about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular. Carefully lift the logs onto the baking sheet and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until they are just slightly firm. The logs will have spread and cracked a little. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes. Leave oven on for second baking.

Use a serrated knife to cut each log into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. Stand slices up on the baking sheet (like the picture at the top of the post) and return to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes.

Transfer biscotti to a wire rack. Cool completely.

Yield: Around 25 bicotti

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Jamwich Cookies

vdaycookies

I wanted to take Valentine’s treats to work last Friday. I decided to make two types of cookies – one tried and true standby and something new and Valentine’s themed. For my tried and true I went with The Chewy – who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies? I decided to go with the Sweetheart Jamwich for my Valentine’s-themed cookie. The combination of pie crust, sweetened cream cheese, jam and white chocolate sounded great.

These cookies were fun to make and a big hit in the treat bags! They are easily adaptable for other holidays and occasions by using a different shape cookie cutter.

Sweetheart Jamwiches
(Recipe source Southern Living)

Ingredients:

1  (15-oz) package refrigerated piecrusts (or homemade)
1  egg white, lightly beaten
2  tbsp  granulated sugar
1  (3-oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4  cup  powdered sugar
2  tbsp  butter, softened
1/2  tsp  almond extract
1/2  (10-oz) jar seedless raspberry preserves or strawberry jam
1/2  cup  white chocolate morsels
1  tablespoon  butter
Red sparkling sugar (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Unfold piecrusts on a lightly floured surface and roll to press out fold lines. Cut with a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. Reroll remaining dough, and repeat procedure. (There should be a total of 46 pastry hearts.) Place pastry hearts on 2 ungreased baking sheets. Brush 1 side of each pastry heart with egg white, and sprinkle evenly with granulated sugar.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove hearts to wire racks, and let cool.

Stir together cream cheese, powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and almond extract until blended.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on unsugared sides of half the hearts; spread about 1/2 teaspoon preserves over mixture. Top with remaining hearts, unsugared sides down.

Microwave white chocolate morsels and 1 tablespoon butter in a glass bowl at HIGH 1 minute or until melted. Stir until smooth. Place mixture in a small heavy-duty zip-top bag; seal bag. Snip a tiny hole in 1 corner of bag, and drizzle over tarts. Sprinkle with red sparkling sugar, if desired.

Yield: 23 cookies

vdaycookiesingle

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altonbrownchewy

It’s official – we have a new favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. I was looking to try a recipe other than my old Tollhouse standby. I ended up going with Alton Brown’s “The Chewy” because of the great reviews. Brandon and I loved these cookies and he requested that this become our new go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.

I love how fast chocolate chip cookies come together – you can whip up a batch in no time. The only time consuming part is preparing and baking the batches. I see no reason to buy cookies when you can make something this delicious at home!

The recipe calls for bread flour and melting the butter – both different from your average chocolate chip cookie recipe. I followed the directions with no modifications and suggest you do too. Whatever you do, be SURE to chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before baking. Also, watch the baking time. I like my cookies soft and usually undercook them by a few minutes (they will not look done when you take them out).

Try these now! And let me know what you think. Better than Tollhouse???

The Chewy
(Recipe source Alton Brown)

Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. (My oven is hot and I had to turn it down to 350 after the first batch)

Scoop onto baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet (pretty decent sized scoops). Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. They may be done in 10-12 minutes – watch them!!! Cool completely on racks before storing in an airtight container.

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