Showing posts with label cookies and brownies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cookies and brownies. Show all posts

29 December 2014

Packing Cookies

My father had asked me to bake him something for Christmas, which is also one of the reasons why I made those short-cut peanut butter blossoms. I also gave him a nice wedge of the cranberry-walnut fruitcake and half a batch of short-cut linzer bars.

I'd intended to give him the whole batch of linzer bars, but it turns out The Husband actually likes slivered almonds and I ended up holding half the batch back for him. I've been married for fifteen years now and I still can't remember what The Husband will or won't eat. I say it's because he keeps changing his mind about things, but he says it's because I'm not paying attention. Which is possible, but I swear he was much more selective when I married him. That may have had more to do with culture shock than taste preference, maybe? Regardless, he likes almonds. Or, at least, sliced almonds with raspberry jam and sugar cookie base.

This short-cut Pillsbury recipe for "Linzer Bars" is both fabulously simple and delicious. I did double the amount of jam and almonds, because the original amounts called for seemed a bit scant, but then I like a jammy cookie. This recipe could easily be made with just about any jam and nut you like and I'll probably be trying it soon with black raspberry jam and blanched slivered almonds.

I wanted to make a nice presentation with the cookies so I bought a round tin at Job Lot and filled it with pairs of cookies I put in seasonal cupcake liners. I figured two cookies to a liner was both a nice look and a decent serving. Dad could just reach in and pull up a liner rather than rooting around all the cookies. And, importantly, the jammy Linzers wouldn't get a chance to fuse to each other!

I put the peanut butter blossoms on the bottom, then a circular divider repurposed from a box of Thornton's, and a layer of bars. It looked quite pretty and the cookies seemed to keep well. Although it probably doesn't matter how well they'd keep, because Dad and The Husband had eaten nearly all the Linzers by the time we left him after Christmas dinner!

This may be for the best as the leftover blossoms kept at home in the same container as the Linzers (with no divider between them) went unappetizingly soft as they absorbed the moisture (I assume) from the jammy bars. Meh. I'm still learning.

27 December 2014

Pretty (Lazy) Peanut Butter Blossoms

Growing up, peanut blossom cookies were one of the first cookies I learned to bake. First, I was old and trustworthy enough roll the dough into balls and coat them in sugar. Then, I could put the kisses on the hot, soft cookies. Then, I was old enough to make the dough myself. Frankly, I loved making molded cookies and, thankfully, my mother's Christmas cookie repertoire was dominated by them. Peanut butter blossoms. Russian tea cakes. Jammy thumbprints. Chocolate crinkles. Yum!

Pretty blossoms waiting their turn in the oven ... and then a kiss! Oooer.

So, there's really no excuse for these lazy cookies. I know exactly how to make peanut butter blossoms from scratch. And yet, as soon as I saw this variation on Pinterest, I rushed to put a tube of refrigerated sugar cookie dough on my shopping list. And a bag of kisses, obviously. Because I would have cookies almost instantly. No measuring. Limited mixing. Dirtied one bowl, one measuring cup, and one spatula. Baking the fruitcake seemed to dirty nearly every dish in my kitchen (I am still not a tidy cook) and I wanted cookies without the washing up.

A kiss for the cookie, a kiss for my belly, a kiss for the cookie ...

Yes, there's nothing to these cookies. Just a tube of sugar cookie dough, a half cup of creamy peanut butter, and a bag of chocolate kisses. I did fancy them up a bit by squishing the dough through my cookie press and found that doing so created the perfect balance of cookie and chocolate so Yay, me.

I also found a nifty way to neatly and easily load the cookie press, which is to roll the dough into tubes slightly smaller than the dough chamber and just drop them right in! I know it's an obvious thing, but I spent so much time faffing about with doughy spoons when I made my Halloween spritz, trying to get all the air pockets out so the press would work properly. I could have saved myself so much time (and sworn a lot less).

Logs of dough. Yes, I know they look like poo.

Anyway! The cookies were very crisp and surprisingly peanut-y considering the small amount of peanut butter used. As always, I think they're best when the kisses are still a bit soft and melty, but they were still pretty darn tasty two days later.

20 December 2014

Ugly Cookies

I'd picked up a bag of Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips at Big Lots just after Thanksgiving with the intention of holding on to them until February when they could be used in baking adorable heart-shaped shortbread cookies. But then I opened the bag ... just to see what they were like ... and started snacking on them. So it seemed they should be used sooner than February, lest they all get snacked away.

Not in the mood for shortbread, I made the "Andes Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies" recipe on the back of the bag, omitting the nuts and using four ounces of semisweet morsels instead of a "chunked" baking bar. They were an easy cookie to assemble and the recipe yielded up forty-three cookies -- pretty darn close to the listed four dozen -- although only forty-one made it out of the kitchen as one was lost to breakage and another to "testing."

I don't like coffee or coffee-flavored things, but one of the upcoming Improv Challenges uses coffee and cream so I thought I should experiment and these cookies seemed like a good start. I know a lot of chocolate cake recipes call for coffee because coffee helps bring out the flavor of the cocoa so I do keep espresso powder on hand. However, I wasn't sure how strong my espresso powder was compared to the two tablespoons instant coffee granules called for in the Andes recipe so I limited my tablespoons to one. If you sniff the cookies, beneath the rich, heady aroma of chocolate-and-peppermint, there is a definite whiff of coffee. The Husband also dislikes coffee, but clearly hasn't noticed or isn't bothered by the scent as he keeps scarfing up cookies! And all my coworkers, some coffee drinkers and some not, all enjoyed these cookies. Ymmv, is all I'm saying.

(Mostly, though, I can't get over how ... unattractive ... these cookies are. Frankly, they look like something worrying I might find half-buried in the cat box).

31 October 2014

Halloween Spritz Cookies

My mother used to bake spritz cookies for Christmas every year and, as a child, they were the cookie I loved to hate. They were pretty, yes, but they were horrible little beasts to assemble. My mother had a Mirro cookie press -- the kind you have to turn the handle at the top of the barrel while holding the bottom level with the baking sheet until enough dough has come out to see the shape of the cookie and then you have to carefully lift the cookie press straight up so as not to ruin the design. It never really worked out well when I had the running of it and, when I started baking on my own, I vowed I'd never bake spritz cookies because they were just to darn fiddly.

Yet ... here I am with an Oxo Good Grips Cookie Press. A cookie press I was given for Christmas last year. After I specifically asked for it. Because I am mad, I tell you, mad.

I used the spider, web, and pumpkin cookie disks to shape my Halloween spritz. I thought the web and pumpkin would be the easiest shapes to press, but the webs turned out to be annoying little beasties. Of course, I started with the webs so when they wouldn't come out properly I thought it was because the baking sheets weren't chilled enough! And then I thought maybe the dough needed to be chilled. And then, finally, I decided to try the spider disk ... and the spiders came out perfect from the first!

Stupid webs.

The pumpkins also shaped and stuck to the baking sheets just fine. I don't know what it was about the webs, but they really didn't want to release from the press.

I used the recipe for butter cookies that came with my Oxo Good Grips Cookie Press, figuring the recipe had been formulated especially for the press and was thereby a good starting point ... so I am still a bit grumpy and confused about why the webs were so difficult.

Since I was making Halloween spritz I divided the dough into two bowls and colored it with Americolor Soft Gel Paste Food Colors. I was afraid to use too much black, because my mouth kept telling me the cookies would taste "black" even though my brain knew that was nonsense.

The dough looks rather gray in the photo, but the cookies baked up pretty dark.

The orange was just ORANGE from the get go and didn't bake up any less vibrant.

Overall, I'd say I enjoyed my first attempt at spritz cookies and am looking forward to making more as we head into Cookie Season. The Oxo cookie press does take a little getting used to as using it isn't quite as straightforward as the instructions suggest (I would say I pressed a good dozen duds before I got the hang of it), but know that I've figured out what I'm doing ... it beats the socks of my mother's old screw-style cookie press!

20 June 2014

Celebratory Cookies

"Spumoni Chunk Cookies" I made for a retirement party. The recipe starts with Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix and then tarts it up with pistachios, dried cherries, and semisweet chocolate chunks. I've made these cookies several times now, but I admit this was the first time I actually stuck with the recipe -- I've used toasted walnuts or pecans -- because pistachios are not something I usually have on hand. (If you can find shelled salted roasted pistachios, well, good on you. I bought mine still in the shell and, in shelling them, probably put as many in my tummy as in the measuring cup).

I thought I had a bag of Nestle Toll House chunks left from Christmas, but couldn't find them when it came time to bake and ended up buying a bag of Hershey's Baking Melts. Based on the packaging illustrations, I was expecting thumbnail-sized rounds, but opened the bag to find surprisingly big 'uns. A bit too big for these cookies, I thought, so I ended up chopping them in half. Unlike with the pistachios, no chocolate ended up in my belly!

The cherries were the last of the sour (tart) cherries I'd bought for fruitcake last December. They're excellent cherries -- slightly sweetened with a real intense punch of cherry flavor. They look a little bit like raisins once they've baked into the cookies, but once you take a bite you know you're dealing with CHERRIES. There's no confusing these with anything else!

Everyone at the party really loved these cookies and several people asked me for the recipe, only to appear visibly distressed when I explained I'd tarted up a cookie mix. The Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix yields a perfectly fine cookie and, with all the other ingredients added in, the cookie base wasn't a significant player in texture or flavor, anyway. If you want to go all out, by all means do use your favorite from-scratch cookie recipe. I needed to bake quite a lot of cookies in very little time between several other obligations and using a cookie mix saved me from Freaking Out and Baking Angry. No one wants to eat angry cookies.

Anyway, there were 35 cookies at the start of the party and 0 cookies were left at the end, so I think it's pretty clear these cookies were a success!

02 February 2014

Baking for My Love: Chocolate Madeleines

As the orange madeleines from William-Sonoma's Essentials of Baking (revised edition) went over so well, I decided to tackle the chocolate version. The recipes are almost identical, but the chocolate recipe obviously omits the orange zest and adds cocoa powder. Interestingly, it also omits the almond extract and uses a full teaspoon of vanilla. I'm pretty sure red raspberry extract would also work well and I may try that next time. Oh, yes, there will be a next time. I envision a monthly baking of madeleines. Chocolate raspberry madeleines. Ginger madeleines. Lemon poppy seed madeleines. Chai spice madeleines.

Except. I'm baking for The Husband and he's not going to want anything more adventurous that chocolate raspberry. Drat.

*sobs into her floury apron*

Chocolate Madeleines

I found it a bit odd that the two recipes were not found side-by-side in William-Sonoma's Essentials of Baking (revised edition), but fell 147 pages apart -- the first in the chapter on cookies and the second in the chapter on chocolate. Why did you do this, editors? All the recipes in the chocolate chapter could easily have been integrated into the rest of the book -- chocolate madeleines with cookies, chocolate opera cake with cakes, etc. Is it simply because chocolate is a big deal to most humans? Am I just being pedantic and weird?

Probably. And, yes.

As with the orange version, this recipe makes twelve madeleines and they are best served warm with a light dusting of confectionery sugar. I found them rather richer than the orange ones -- the orange ones were so light and fluffy and zesty that I managed to eat four without blinking, but the chocolate ones were darkly, deeply chocolaty (surprising, because I just used Hershey's Dutch-processed cocoa) and two more than sufficed with a pot of Earl Grey. The Husband does not agree with me on this and he happily ate five chocolate madeleines with his afternoon cuppa. It's possible that it comes down to chocolate tolerance. If you love chocolate, you'll want to eat all the madeleines. If you don't, then you won't. I'm very much a citrus and berry girl.

19 January 2014

Baking for My Love: Orange Madeleines

I'm a bookish cook, so baking madeleines seems an obvious thing and yet I've spent years avoiding the things because they sounded tricksy and every resource seemed to have a different opinion about what they should be. Mostly, I think, because everyone wants to bake Proust's madeleines and no-one has that precise recipe?

As I don't want to bake Proust's madeleines any more than I want to read Proust, I was willing (purely out of love for The Husband) to attempt the two versions in William-Sonoma's Essentials of Baking (revised edition). The Husband seemed quite excited by the idea of madeleines -- they are very photogenic cookie-cakes (cake-cookies?), after all -- and they seemed high on his list of Things I Must Bake.

Since we had too many satsumas on hand, my first attempt was with the recipe for orange madeleines. A thorough read-through of the recipe actually left me feeling quite confident I could bake a decent madeleine -- they are surprisingly simple cookie-cakes -- and I was away.

Buttered, Floured Madeleine Pan

The recipe says to carefully and thoroughly butter and flour ever ridge of the madeleine pan, because the madeleines may stick otherwise, so I buttered and floured as if Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood were looking over my shoulder. And, you know, I think I might have gone a wee bit overboard, because when I went to flip and knock the pan against the cooling rack to release the cookies, they all fell out before I'd even completed the flip. I used a Chicago Metallic madeleine pan and it is, apparently, not joking around about being nonstick.

These madeleines came out looking and tasting just as Essentials of Baking said they should -- perfect little scallop shells of tender, spongy cake. I was so chuffed. We ate them warm, as recommended, with a dusting of confectionery sugar. The recipe makes twelve, which is perfect with tea for two as breakfast and elevenses.

Orange Madeleines

Really, I can't get over how well these madeleines came out and I look forward to baking the chocolate version. While I know a lot of my success has to do with improved baking skills due to time and practice, some has to do with the way Essentials of Baking's is written. It's as if the editors peeked into my brain and then wrote the book specifically for me. The recipes (at least the ones I've read through) all seem quite clear and straight forward and even go so far as to provide instructions for both hand and machine mixing. And amounts are giving in multiple forms of measurement! Honestly, I'm crushing pretty hard on Essentials of Baking.

Orange Madeleines

12 January 2014

Ginger Oatmeal Cookies

I promised one of my coworkers cookies as thanks for all the help he's given me this week, what with so many staff members struck down by winter ailments. I baked him ginger oatmeal cookies as, while he likes cookies, he prefers goodies he can pretend are good for him! Oatmeal is heart-healthy and ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory effects, so ...

Ginger Oatmeal Cookies

Ginger Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Taste of Home
Makes about 24 cookies

½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup molasses
1½ cups white whole wheat flour [King Arthur Flour's 100% Organic White Whole Wheat]
¾ cup old-fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp allspice
¼ cup crystallized ginger chips [King Arthur Flour's Mini Diced Ginger]

Combine dry ingredients and set aside.

Beat together shortening and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix until well combined.

Roll into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Gently flatten with the bottom of a glass. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or just until set. Remove to wire racks to cool.
This cookies were good -- crispy on the outside with touch of chewiness at the center and very rich with spice. I was quite pleased by how well they turned out and my coworker was very happy.

I have shared this recipe at these delicious blog parties:
Swing by and link up your own dishes!

05 January 2014

Baking for My Love: Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

I gave The Husband a copy of William-Sonoma's Essentials of Baking for Christmas with the understanding he would select recipes from the book and I would attempt to follow them. It's very similar to the Cake-A-Month plan I gave my dad umptieth years ago, but includes all kinds of baking and is not necessary limited to one item per month. I couldn't decide, when I bought the book, whether this was the best or lamest gift ever, and even though The Husband seemed chuffed, I'm still worried it's a crap gift.

(Because, if I really loved The Husband, I would be baking for him all the damn time. Wouldn't I? Except when I ask him what kind of cake/cupcake/cookie he'd like, he is not capable of articulating his desires and I get annoyed. Who wants to spend hours baking what may be the wrong cake? At least now he can point at the pictures).


I baked some cookies! Beautiful, golden "Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies" with soft, chewy centers and crispy outsides. I was a bit worried when I took them out of the oven, because they were very puffy and looked nothing like those in the book. But after they'd cooled, they looked more the thing.

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipe says it makes thirty cookies and I managed twenty-eight, which was pretty good considering at least two of my cookies seemed monstrously large when compared to their mates. The inconsistency in sizes always amuses me, as I use a cookie scoop and thus they should all be the same. What can I say? I am not the most exacting baker.

Also, I like big cookies (and I cannot lie / You other brothers can't deny ...).

03 February 2013

Banana Bread & The Cookies of Appeasement

Once again, our freezer suffered from a surfeit of bananas. Its salvation? Money Saving Mom's tempting "Freezer-Friendly Chocolate Banana Bread" (subbed peanut butter chips for chocolate). I don't know that this bread actually freezes well as it's going straight to work and into hungry librarian bellies, but it looks and smells fabulous. Indeed, its heady perfume made me feel a bit drunk after a while and I had to remove the loaf to a cupboard while I baked The Husband's Cookies of Appeasement.

Chocolate Banana Bread w/ Peanut Butter Morsels
My co-worker's could not get enough of this bread!

I'd already baked The Husband a beautiful almond bundt cake earlier this week (with homemade raspberry sauce even!), but he was still clearly displeased to come downstairs this morning and discover the delicious baking smells that had finally roused him from his snug nest were not for him. Oh, the betrayal in his eyes! And the scorn he heaped upon my poor, innocent banana bread.

Almond Bundt w/ Raspberry Sauce
Tender almond sponge with raspberry sauce, yum!

So I baked him cookies -- Betty Crocker's "Black Beauties" -- which allowed me to use up the bag of Betty Crocker double chocolate chunk cookie mix leftover from a work event, so yay for that. The cookies came out well, even though I omitted the nuts (meant to replace them with chopped hazelnuts but forgot) and did not dip the baked cookies in melted chocolate (clearly, I do not love my husband that much). They were best the first few hours out of the oven, when biting down on their crisp exteriors released warm, gooey chocolate centers. I suspect that tomorrow they'll just be a bit chewy and The Husband will lose a little of his ardor for them.

Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Can't go wrong with a warm cookie

Oh, fickle Eater of Cookies!

11 December 2012

Christmas Time is Cookie Time

So, like everyone else, I've been baking cookies. Nothing fancy this year, because I don't have the motivation or drive for fancy, but I yearn for the comfort of cookies. The sheer homeyness of cookies.


The first batch I made, "Spumoni Chunk Cookies," used a recipe I found on The cookies, which used Betty Crocker's sugar cookie mix as a base, were chock full of dried cherries, dry-roasted salted nuts, and white and semisweet chocolate chips. I admit my cookies don't look quite as pretty as the ones on the website, but they still tasted pretty darn fine and my coworkers scarfed them down as if they were manna or ambrosia.

Knowing The Husband would not touch the spumoni cookies with a ten-foot pole, I made him a batch of Crisco's "Ultimate Double Chocolate Chip Cookies" using white chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips. He seemed pleased with them, but said they were best still warm from the oven. Warming them the next day in the microwave worked okay, but nothing is beats cookies fresh from the oven.


04 August 2012

Imperfectly Delicious Oreo Cheesecake Pudding Bites

August's Crazy Cooking Challenge is cheesecake and straight away I knew I would need a recipe for a bite-size no-bake cheesecake, because ... August. August is not for baking nor is it for heavy food like cheesecake.

Happily, I found a recipe at Cooking Classy for no-bake "Oreo Cheesecake Bites" that looked like it would be perfect for the challenge. We like Oreos. We love cheesecake. We adore bite-size nibbles.

No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake Bites
So cute!

Unfortunately, I immediately ran into a big problem -- none of the grocery stores near me sold 3.4 oz packages of cheesecake flavored instant pudding mix. The closest thing I could find was 1 oz Jell-O brand sugar-free instant cheesecake pudding mix at Target.

I decided to give it a go but fudge the amount of liquid, because I worried that using the smaller box would mean a soupier filling if I used the original amounts of liquid. So, instead of 1 cup heavy cream and ¾ cup milk, I used 1 cup heavy cream and ¼ (1%) milk. This sounds logical, doesn't it? Well, it didn't work. My cheesecake filling was still very pudding like and leaving it in the freezer for 20 minutes (instead of 10) didn't noticeably improve it.

Mind you, it still tasted very good -- gooey Oreo cheesecake filling cannot taste bad as it contains both Oreos and cheesecake and those things are never bad -- and we were happy enough to eat the bites, imperfect as they might be.

Because the recipe made 30 and there are only 2 of us, I made 6 bites and stored the rest of the filling in my frosting gun in the freezer so that 1) the filling would hopefully set-up more as time went on and 2) we could make more bites whenever we pleased. If the filling doesn't set up more overnight, I'll just make cheesecake parfaits by layering the gooey filling with crushed Oreos and whipped cream.

Eek! Two days left to find another cheesecake recipe! To the library!

19 April 2012

Improv Challenge: Peanut Butter & Jelly

When the two ingredients for this month's Improv Challenge at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker were revealed, I was excited because I had been meaning to make "Peanut Butter and Port Thumbprints" from The Boozy Baker (Running Press, 2010) for many months now. Nut butter, jam, and port all in a cookie? What could be better? Of course, stuff happened and the next thing I knew it was two days before the Improv Challenge and I still hadn't baked those darn cookies! And that is how I found myself baking cookies (and taking pics) when I should have been in bed.

Peanut Butter & Port Thumbprints

The recipe was pretty straight forward -- bog standard peanut butter cookie recipe plus jam mixed with port. Measure out the dough, roll it into balls, poke a well in it, etc. I used my tablespoon cookie scoop to make sure I ended up with uniformly-sized cookies, but I only managed 15 cookies to a sheet so that was 30 cookies overall, instead of the recipe's 32.

Making Peanut Butter & Port Thumbprints

I used the bowl of ½ teaspoon to make the wells and pressed it in deep hoping that would help keep the seedless black raspberry jam in place. And the jam did stay in place ... it's the cookie dough that oozed everywhere.

Making Peanut Butter & Port Thumbprints

My cookies came out a bit wonky-looking and I expect that's because I substituted "natural" cashew butter for the peanut butter. The cashew butter lacked the stabilizers I would have found in "normal" peanut butter like Jif and so the cookies kind-of spread all over the place as they baked. Mind you, they tasted really fab -- nutty, crispy, sweet, and jammy. They just look so homely.


I do want to make this cookies again with crunchy Jif to see if they hold their shape better. If they do, I'll make them with blueberry jam and blueberry port for my dad's birthday. I have many memories of my dad sitting on the couch after supper, spreading Townhouse crackers with crunchy Jif, then making a little well in the peanut butter and filling it with jam. Blueberry jam was his favorite, but he's make me raspberry ones. All the jams were made by Mom, of course, but I think Dad will be happy enough with Stonewall Kitchen's "Wild Maine Blueberry Jam" in his cookies as I lack the jam-making skillz.

05 April 2012

Soft Cookies, Warm Cookies, Nom, Nom, Nom

In a fit of madness (or was it optimism?) I promised The Husband cookies on a weekend already packed with cooking. I knew I'd need a very basic no-frills recipe that would still be up to The Husband's high standards. After a very brief ohmygodshowmethebestreciperightnow Google search, I settled on a modified version of SheKnows's "Cranberry Chip Cookies."

White Chocolate Raspberry Chip Cookies

I used 1 cup Nestle semi-sweet mini morsels, 1 cup Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value white chocolate chunks, and 1 cup Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value dried sweetened raspberries. I also used 1 teaspoon Cook's Pure Red Raspberry Extract instead of the vanilla to give the cookies extra raspberry power and skipped the nuts as I thought there was enough going on in these cookies without them.

These cookies were, we both agree, best eaten warm. Warm, they were soft with slightly melty chocolate and plump, almost gooey raspberries. At room temperature they were pretty fair crisp chocolate chip cookies, but the dried raspberries had resumed their regular raisin-like texture. The Husband does not like raisins or anything that resembles raisins texturally and his cookie consumption sloooooowed right down.

So it was high, ho, off to work the cookies go! And my coworkers seemed perfectly happy to scarf them up. There cookies hit the staff room at 8:20 and, at 10:15, there was nothing left but crumbs. I think there's nothing librarians like more on a Monday morning than free cookies in the staff room. Unless, it's free cake ...

23 February 2012

Good-bye, Mix! Hello, Brownies!

Ye Olde Baking Chocolate

Oh, the shame! The embarrassment! The ... thrift? Last weekend, faced with a Hershey's Baking Bar that was best by September 2010 and that I couldn't bear to throw out because it looked (and tasted) perfectly fine, I whipped up a pan of Hershey's "Quick and Easy Fudgey Brownies." I made the cake-like variation with ½ cup milk and 1½ cups flour, because I intended to serve these brownies with fresh raspberries and whipped cream and cake-like brownies seemed better suited to that pairing than gooey ones.

Brownie w/ Raspberries & Cream

Definitely recommend this recipe if you're trying to get away from mixes, but still want fast, no fuss brownies. This was an extremely easy recipe anyone could make and it couldn't have taken more than 10 minutes to throw together. It made 24 cake-like brownies, which is far more than I get from most mixes.

20 February 2012

Cleaning out the cupboards with ... cookies!

Just like soup, cookies are an excellent way to use up a bunch of odds-and-ends. Last week, faced with multiple open bags of chocolate baking bits, I made a batch of Crisco's "Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies" and there was much rejoicing from The Husband who still thinks that he isn't getting enough cookies. Sir, I have now baked five kinds of cookies since New Year's! That is exponentially more cookie-baking than ever before.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Anyway, to make these cookies I used a combination of Nestle semi-sweet mini morsels, Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips, and Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value white chocolate chunks. The total amount of chocolate was the same as what the recipe called for -- just broken down along different lines. It would have been just as easy to sub in butterscotch chips (had any remained from the Scotchie Experiment) or walnuts. I don't recommend adding more chocolate than the recipe calls for unless you want chocolate studded with cookie instead of cookie studded with chocolate.

These were pretty good cookies -- crisp on the outside, tender in the middle, and (surprisingly) very chocolaty without being very sweet. Were they the "ultimate" chocolate chip cookies? While they were an order of magnitude better than Chips Ahoy, they're can't hold a candle to the Jacques Torres French Kiss Cookies I made in July ... big, buttery, bittersweet, yum!

I still have a ridiculous amount of baking chocolate left on hand:
  • Hershey's unsweetened baking bar
  • Baker's semi-sweet baking chocolate squares
  • Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips (partial)
  • Nestle semi-sweet mini morsels (partial)
  • Nestle semi-sweet chunks
Bake moar cookies?

31 January 2012

Oatmeal Scotchies -- I Blame Netflix

Ever since Netflix sent us the first season of Warehouse 13 a couple weeks ago, I've been jonesing for oatmeal scotchies. While they're referenced very briefly in the pilot episode, that was just enough to trigger a very persistent craving for what was once a favorite cookie I used to buy, still warm, during my mad, bad college days. Oh, oatmeal scotchies, I didn't even realize I missed you, but now you're all I want to bake.

Oatmeal Scotchies

So (obviously) I baked some! I used Nestle's recipe for "Oatmeal Scotchies" (recipe is on the back of the butterscotch morsels' bag) and, woo, these were tasty cookies. Crispy on the outside with chewy centers and lots of delicious butterscotch bits.

Oatmeal Scotchie

This recipe is supposed to make 48 cookies, but I was a bit heavy-handed with my cookie scoop and only managed 35 large cookies -- of which I took half to work and kept the other half for us. This turned out to be an error on my part as The Husband and I could definitely have used more cookies at home. Cookies, om nom nom!

(My co-workers really enjoyed the cookies and certainly didn't think I brought them too many!)

19 January 2012

Cookies, I Baked Them

I had promised The Husband cookies over the long weekend, but ended up using the last of the all-purpose flour in Sunday's silver dollar pancakes. I considered going to the store for flour, but in the spirit of the pantry challenge, it seemed a bit lazy to go buy flour when I had a mostly-full bin of King Arthur Organic White Whole Wheat Flour on hand. Surely I could make cookies with it? I use white whole wheat in roux, cakes, brownies, and quick breads so why not cookies? But could I find a recipe The Husband would like?

Happily, I found a Betty Crocker recipe for "No-Roll Sugar Cookies" which used white whole wheat flour. Since sugar cookies are the most basic, bog standard cookies I figured there was nothing about them The Husband would find displeasing and gave the recipe a go.

Sugar Cookies

And, you know, these turned out to be really lovely cookies -- crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and richly perfumed with the heady scent of Penzeys Mexican Vanilla. I'm encouraged to try white whole wheat flour in more cookie recipes!

10 January 2012

cookies and milk after lunch

I brought Better Homes and Gardens' Very Merry Cookies (Wiley, 2011) home from the library last week and told The Husband to pick out a couple cookie recipes he liked. Ten minutes (and one chapter) later, the book was studded with sticky notes. Among others, The Husband desired "White Chocolate and Raspberry Cookies," "Mini Raspberry and White Chocolate Whoopie Pies," "Strawberry Cheesecake Tartlets," and "Raspberry Cookie Sandwiches." While they all looked delicious, I thought I should start with the simplest recipe -- the one for "White Chocolate and Raspberry Cookies."

Maybe it's because it's been a while since I ate a cookie, but these were really good cookies. And so easy to make! I will definitely be making them again -- perhaps next week? Or is that too soon?

Rasberry White Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients: white chocolate morsels, unsalted butter, sugar, baking soda, salt, all-purpose flour, seedless raspberry jam, shortening, red raspberry extract.

The recipe doesn't actually call for red raspberry extract, but I thought a cap full couldn't hurt (and it didn't). Also, the recipe says not to fill and decorate these cookies in advance but to wait until you were going to serve them. I don't know why it says that as I filled and decorated mine as soon as they had cooled and they kept fine for a week in snap/lock container. The trick seemed to be to poke little wells in the cookies' middles as they came out of the oven to hold the melty jam in. I didn't have this brilliant idea until my second cookie sheet came out of the oven, so some of my cookies didn't get wells and I didn't fill them with jam -- just drizzled the white chocolate over them and called them good enough. And they were.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cookies

Anyway, the wells keep the jam from running about and, once everything is properly cooled, the chocolate hardens up and there's no reason you can't store these cookies all filled and ready to go. They don't stick to each other. They don't ooze. They just sit in the container and say "Eat me! I'm delicious!"

24 September 2011

A Mix A Week: Stonewall Kitchen Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

I'm a little behind with my Mix A Week Challenge so I went a little overboard to compensate and made both boxes of Stonewall Kitchen's Chocolate Sandwich Cookie mix this past weekend. Having made the Vanilla Sandwich Cookie mix last month, I felt I'd had enough practice that I was unlikely to ruin a double batch. And, you know, I did pretty good. Almost creamed an egg shell with the butter (don't ask) and burnt my left hand twice, but those were small troubles.

Remembering the domed vanilla sandwich cookies, I smooshed the chocolate ones down much more firmly and the chocolate ones came out pretty flat. Sometimes, going all "Hulk smash!" is a good thing?

chocolate sandwich cookies

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

The mix says it makes twenty-four sandwich cookies per box, but I only managed twenty. This is perfectly okay with me as I don't really want a lot of cookies hanging around my kitchen -- half of them went to work with me, anyway, and were all eaten up by the end of the day. Several people asked me for the recipe and I happily pointed them at the Stonewall Kitchen website ... only to find out Stonewall Kitchen doesn't sell this mix, anymore.

Seven mixes down, ten to go!