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Peach-Oatmeal Cookies Luscious sweet summer peaches won’t be around forever, so try to serve them in as many ways as possible. For me, that means peach cookies! To assuage my guilt for craving cookies, I decided to try this recipe; it contains rolled oats, two types of fruit, less fat, and less sugar than an average cookie recipe. One bite of these cookies and everything will be just “peachy.”

Peach-Oatmeal Cookies
Martha Stewart Living Magazine, July/August 1996

INGREDIENTS
3 large peaches, or 1¼ pounds frozen peaches, thawed and drained
1 T fresh lemon juice
3 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
6 T granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 T pure vanilla extract
1½ cups plus 1 T rolled oats
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sun-dried cherries, chopped

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Pit, peel, and dice two of the peaches. (If using frozen peaches, set aside 3/4 cup). Place diced peaches in a saucepan; add lemon juice. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until the peaches are broken down, about 20 minutes. Using a whisk, mash peaches; let cool.

3. Meanwhile, dice the remaining peach or reserved frozen peaches and set aside.

4. With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on high until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in mashed peaches. Add diced peaches; stir in by hand.

5. In a bowl, mix oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and cherries. Stir into the peach mixture by hand until well combined.

6. Drop a heaping tablespoonful onto prepared sheet; dampen finger (with water) and gently flatten. Repeat, spacing 2 inches apart.

7. Bake until very golden brown and crisp around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cookies on wire racks.

Makes about 3 dozen

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Most recipes call for 1 tsp of vanilla extract, so make note that the 1 T of vanilla extract specified is not a typo.

2. Because of the peach juice, this is not a thick batter.

3. One recipe yielded 42 medium-sized cookies for me.

4. The introduction to the recipe states,”If you want these cookies crisp, leave them overnight uncovered; for moist cookies, wrap them well once they’ve cooled.”

Enjoy!

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Chunky Lola Cookies The lyrics from the Broadway song, “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets,” plays in my head while I make these cookies. In the musical Damn Yankees, Lola is a seductress hired by the devil. I don’t have a clue who the Chunky Lola of this famous recipe is, but she must be a seductress in her own right to have a devilishly delicious cookie named after her. With its dark chocolate chunks, sweet coconut, crunchy toasted pecans, and chewy oats, this cookie is so exceptional that you’ll say “the devil made me do it” as you reach for another one!

Chunky Lola Cookies
Recipe by Joanne Chang, owner and pastry chef at
Flour Bakery + Cafe

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (1-3/8 sticks/156 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups (175 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (70 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
9 ounces (255 grams) bittersweet chocolate (62 to 70 percent cacao), chopped into ½-inch pieces
1¼ cups (125 grams) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
1 cup (120 grams) sweetened shredded coconut

DIRECTIONS
1. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer or wooden spoon), cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy. (This step will take about 10 minutes if using a handheld mixer or spoon.) Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and the paddle as necessary.

2. Beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl and paddle again to make sure the eggs are completely incorporated.

3. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate, pecans, and coconut and toss to combine.

4. On low speed (or with wooden spoon), slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and then mix just until the flour mixture is totally incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed.

5. For the best results, scrape the dough into an airtight container and let rest in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 3 to 4 hours) before baking.

6. When ready to bake, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350℉.

7. Drop the dough in ¼-cup balls onto parchment paper or Silpat lined baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.

8. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown on the edges and slightly soft in the center. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are cool enough to remove with a spatula. Then transfer them directly to the wire rack to cool completely, or enjoy them warm.

9. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. The unbaked dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Makes approximately 18 large cookies

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. As Joanne Chang recommends, I weighed the ingredients that had weight equivalents listed.

2. I used Plugra unsalted butter and Lindt 70% Cocoa Smooth Dark chocolate with superior results.

3. I appreciate the notes that the author includes in her cookbook. Most of us home bakers do not cream butter and sugar together long enough. Of that Chang says, It’s best to beat together the butter and sugar for longer than you might think: as long as 6 to 8 minutes on medium speed with a stand mixer in some cases. Watch for the transformation from a yellow, sandy mixture to an ivory, fluffy mixture—the sign that you have properly creamed them together. When you are creaming butter with brown sugar, you’ll see the mixture go from muddy looking to pale brown, and creamy.

4. Even though I refrigerated the dough overnight, the cookies still spread quite a bit. To prevent the cookies from touching as they bake, next time I will space them farther apart than specified or make the dough balls smaller.

5. This cookie recipe is a 10 in my mind. However, because it requires a minimum of 3 to 4 hours of chilling time, it is not a cookie you can make in the spur of the moment.

Enjoy!

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Lemon-Black Pepper Cookies What about this? What about taking a great lemon butter cookie recipe and adding a peppery twist? Now take that incredible cookie dough and mix in some cornmeal for additional crunch and flavor. Sounds pretty good, right? Wait, we’re not done yet! Bake a batch of these cookies and let them cool. Here’s the best part: spread some vanilla bean ice cream or lemon gelato on the back of one cookie and take another cookie and smoosh the cookies together to make one intriguing ice cream sandwich. Whether you make these cookies for a holiday tea or make the ice cream sandwiches for the hot days of summer, you’ll be so glad you did!

Lemon-Black Pepper Cornmeal Cookies
Luscious Lemon Desserts by Lori Longbotham

INGREDIENTS
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon fresh, coarsely ground black pepper (optional)
Pinch of salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup finely grated lemon zest (approximately 4 lemons)
2 large egg yolks

DIRECTIONS
1. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, black pepper, if using, and salt together in a medium bowl.

2. Beat the butter, sugar, and zest in a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beginning on low speed and increasing to medium-high speed, until light and fluffy.

3. Add the egg yolks and beat to combine well.

4. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture, and beat on low speed just until blended; the dough will be crumbly.

5. Press the dough together with your hands and divide it in half. Place each half on a sheet of waxed paper and form each piece into a 10-by-1¼-inch log. Smooth each log with dampened fingers. Chill the logs, wrapped in waxed paper, for at least 3 hours, or until firm.

6. At least 25 minutes before baking, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400° F. Butter 2 large nonstick baking sheets.

7. Cut each log into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and arrange rounds 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for 10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Makes 6 dozen cookies

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. To get 1/4 cup of lemon zest, I used 4 big Eureka lemons and 1 small Myer lemon.
2. My dough was not crumbly, but more sticky.
3. The next time I make these cookies, I will add a little bit more salt.
4. I used parchment paper instead of buttering the cookie sheets.
5. The cookbook author states, “If you’d rather, add 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger with the dry ingredients, instead of the pepper.” I personally like the idea of a peppery surprise over a more tame ginger flavor.
6. The author also states that “These are perfect with ice cream and fruit.” I agree!

Enjoy!

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Dried Cherry Shortbread Bigger is better, especially when it comes to cookies. Not because you get more yummy-in-your-tummy, but because big cookies are meant to be shared. For casual entertaining, have fun and save time by making big or “slab” cookies. This delectable shortbread recipe starts out in a large tart pan, but ends up being cut into shareable squares. Or like Salted Butter Breakups, a recipe which I wrote about over a year ago, you can break it up with your hands and share pieces with your friends.

Dried Cherry Shortbread
The Art of the Cookie by Shelly Kaldunski

INGREDIENTS
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Have ready a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat together the butter and 1¼ cups of the sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beating on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture, beating until almost incorporated.

4. Add the vanilla and dried cherries and beat on low speed just until the dough forms large clumps and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

5. Using your hands, evenly press the dough into the tart pan. With a fork, prick the entire surface, making holes 1/4 inch deep at 1-inch intervals.

6. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake until the center is very lightly golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Immediately sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar evenly over the shortbread and use a sharp chef’s knife to cut it into squares. Let cool in pan, about 30 minutes.

7. Remove the cookies from the pan and store in an airtight container, layered between sheets of parchment paper at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Makes about 30 cookies

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. For the best flavor, use a quality brand of butter.

2. Check the shortbread after 25 minutes and keep an eye on it, so it does not get too dark.

Enjoy!

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Pistachio Shortbread Cookies A package of pistachio shortbread cookies sits in a basket near a cash register in a New Mexico restaurant. I debate whether or not to buy them. On the con side of the debate, eating cookies goes against my desire to lose weight and they seem a bit pricey at three small cookies for $3.99. However, on the pro side, I am on vacation and only a crazy person attempts to diet while traveling. Plus, my hubby and I need something to munch on during a long drive back to our hotel. Dilemma solved. I buy the cookies and eat them in the car, but that only creates a new dilemma. Because the cookies possess an exquisitely buttery taste and a wonderfully crunchy texture, I crave for more.

Back at home, I search for an easy pistachio shortbread cookie recipe that will satisfy my cravings. Found it. Another dilemma solved. That is, until my next trip and my next craving!

Pistachio Shortbread
Adapted from Epicurious

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup natural unsalted pistachios, lightly toasted, chopped
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
1. Mix flour, powdered sugar, and salt together in a food processor.
2. Add butter, pistachios, egg yolk, and vanilla.
3. Pulse the mixture until a moist ball forms. Transfer dough to work surface. Divide dough in half.
4. Form each dough half into 8 x 1¼-inch log (if dough is too soft, chill until firm, about 30 minutes).
5. Wrap logs in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 5 days ahead; keep chilled.
6. Preheat oven to 325°F.
7. Slice logs into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, rolling log after every few slices to retain round shape.
8. Place rounds on ungreased baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart. Bake shortbread until barely golden, about 18 minutes.
9. Cool shortbread on baking sheets.
10. DO AHEAD: Shortbread can be made up to 4 days ahead. Store shortbread in airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 60 cookies

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I rough chopped the nuts before adding them to the food processor. If you desire larger chunks of nuts in these cookies, you could add whole nuts to the processor. However, keep in mind that chunkier nuts might make it more difficult to slice the dough.

2. I lined the cookie sheets with parchment paper.

3. I chilled the dough logs for 2 hours and they were firm, but easy to slice.

4. These cookies tasted better and had more crunch when they were baked to a light golden brown versus until “barely golden.”

5. Before serving I decided to dust them with Baker’s sugar (ultrafine granular) for a sweet and pretty finish.

6. I only got 44 cookies from this recipe.

Enjoy!

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Christmas Cookies Like fog rolling in and stealing the sun, winter doldrums came and swept over me. Even though it’s not officially winter yet, I’ve been feeling kind of blue these last couple of weeks. Realizing this, I knew I desperately needed a special kind of therapy – cookie therapy. Luckily, a friend sensed my mood and we set up a “therapy session.” Baking and decorating cookies with reckless creativity and chatting and laughing made my case of wintertime blues disappear.

#1 – The Cookies
The cookies featured in the photo above are my holiday version of my Valentine’s Day Cookies. Click the link for the recipe and directions. These decorated shortbread cookies are cheerful to look at and delicious to devour!

#2 – Edible Gifts
60 Ideas For Homemade Edible Gifts If Chocolate-Covered Bacon, Earl Grey Kumquat Marmalade, or Parmesan Black Pepper Biscotti sound delicious to you, just think how impressed your friends will be when you give them one of these edible gifts. PopSugar’s post Over 60 Ideas For Homemade Edible Gifts is filled with intriguing and interesting ideas. Some of them take advance planning such as making homemade limoncello or vanilla extract.

#3 – In The Mirrored Room
Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room - the Souls of Millions of Light Years Away Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama created an art installation called the “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” that is both breathtaking and surreal. Lucky New York City folk can visit this amazing installation until December 21st at the David Zwirner Gallery. How I wish I could step into that room!

#4 – Finding Courage
How to Find Courage In the Wizard of Oz, the Cowardly Lion sought to find courage, not knowing it was already within him. Each day we face a variety of struggles, most of which we deal with and then we move on with our lives. To do this requires courage. Like the Cowardly Lion, many of us don’t realize that we already possess the courage we need to face issues. We just need to uncover it. While reading an online magazine this morning, I came across an article by Steve Keating called How to Find Courage. Although it was written by a business man for a target audience, its message is applicable for everyone.

#5 – Never Too Late
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Go Now and Spread Joy!

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Whopper Cookies: Baking with Halloween Candy When Halloween has come and gone, but the Halloween candy has not, what do you do with the leftovers? Do you force yourself to eat them up one by one or do you spare yourself the calories and take them to your spouse’s office? Do you refrigerate them for future use or do you send them off in college care packages? In the past, I’ve done all of the above, but for the last several years, I’ve used the leftover candy for something better. Selecting Halloween candies suitable for baking, I use them to create delicious sweet treats, such as cookies, bars, cakes, and pies. Whoppers, chocolate-covered malted milk balls, turn average cookies into sweet, crunchy, and malted surprises. Trick or treat?

Whopper Cookies
Adapted from recipe by Cast Sugar 

INGREDIENTS
2¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cup roughly chopped Whoppers

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F and cover baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Stir in milk and vanilla, then gradually blend in the flour mixture. Do not over mix; stir only until no streaks of flour remain.
5. Carefully stir in the chopped Whoppers.
6. Drop 1-inch balls onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until lightly browned.
7. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used unsalted butter and the cookies were perfect.
2. Wanting to have “nice chunks” of Whoppers, I cut each one individually, rather than doing a messy rough-chop on them. This took a little longer, but I liked the end result.
3. I barely had enough Whoppers, so I added some rough-chopped Butterfingers to the mix. These were fantastic!
4. I got 45 cookies out of this recipe.

ENJOY!

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