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Entries in Cookies (168)

Thursday
Aug122010

Bar Hopping: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Topped Bar Cookies Recipe

If I were, on this very day, pressed to answer the question "what treat would you most enjoy eating until you descend into morbid obesity?" I would have a ready answer: Peanut butter and Chocolate Chip-Topped Bar Cookies.

It all happened recently while baking the "Dream Bars" from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book and realizing that--duh--I basically had none of the ingredients for the top layer, which was meant to be made up of an almond-coconut topping. So there I was, with a somewhat sad expanse of beige batter for a bar cookie base.

Turning to my pantry (OK, my cabinet), I found half a jar of old-fashioned chunky peanut butter and half a bag of milk chocolate chips. Yes! In the mix they both went, scattered irregularly on top of the batter.

The result? Something lovely and amazing. Moist blondie-esque cookie bars with pockets of gooey-crunchy peanut butter and smooth, delicious chocolate. Something you won't...be...able...to...stop...eating. And if you don't like them? No problem, I'll finish the tray for you.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip-Topped Bar Cookies

adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 jar (about a cup) peanut butter (I used chunky)
  • 1/2 bag (about a cup) milk chocolate chips

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix the butter and sugar thoroughly. Stir in flour. Press and flatten with hand to cover the bottom of a parchment-lined oblong pan, 13x9-ish. 
  3. Bake 10 minutes, then spread with the topping (irregularly spooned globs of peanut butter and a sprinkling of chocolate chips).
  4. Return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool slightly, then cut into bars. Makes about 20.
Wednesday
Aug042010

Sweet n Sour: Old Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies Recipe

There are many moments in life to enjoy over-the-top desserts (seriously--just read the responses in the "what would your last-meal dessert be?" giveaway).

But sometimes, you just need a good old-fashioned cookie. Or, as Betty Crocker of the 60's would say, a cooky.

After all, Betty Crocker's Cooky Book is where I found this understated gem of a recipe for Old Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies. It's listed in the "Heritage Cookies" section of the book, which is where you'll find, as I think of them, the frumpy forefathers of today's cookies. I don't mean this as an insult--I simply mean that while they're not the sexiest-looking cookies, they're substantial enough in flavor that it's no secret why these recipes have stuck around through the years.

This particular recipe yields a cookie that is lightly tangy, and yet somehow fluffy without being "light"--they have a compelling flavor which keeps bringing you back for more. And with a sprinkling of sugar on top, they have a satisfying crunch, too.

Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 425 F.
  2. Mix butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla thoroughly. 
  3. Sift the dry ingredients together; add to the sugar mixture alternately with the sour cream.
  4. The original recipe suggests rolling the dough out, but I simply pinched off pieces and rolled them into approximately 1 1/2-inch diameter balls and placed them on the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. 
  5. Place on a greased (or parchment-lined) baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar.
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned on the sides. Makes about 36-48 cookies.
Wednesday
Jul282010

Short and Sweet: Canestrelli Semolina Shortbread Recipe

In October, a big ol' brick of a book will be hitting the shelves in a bookstore near you: The Essential New York Times Cookbook, Classic Recipes for a New Century. It's an updated version of the classic Craig Claiborne-edited New York Times Cookbook , with plenty of classic recipes as well as a large variety of newer ones. 

Now, there are several reasons why you should be excited about this book: more than a thousand, in fact, which is how many recipes you'll find, culled from the venerable newspaper's archives, each of which has a witty and interesting intro by she's-kind-of-a-big-deal editor Amanda Hesser

But right now, we're just going to focus on one: the recipe for Canestrelli, a semolina shortbread featured in the book. Lightly nutty and gritty but plenty buttery, these cookies couldn't be simpler to make (I lightly adapted the recipe to make them as bars instead of cookies), and are a perfect light dessert, and made even more delectable with a sprinkling of fancy sea salt.

I served these at a picnic with buddies Tea and Megan, and they went over quite well!

Canestrelli

(Shortbread from Ovada, adapted from Rona Deme's ''Country Host Cookbook'', As seen in the NY Times Cookbook; originally from this article)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 1/2 pound lightly salted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, sift together the flour and semolina and set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, with the electric mixer on high speed, add the butter in small pieces, beating until it is uniformly softened.
  4. Add the sugar and continue beating until the two are creamed together.
  5. Lower the speed of the mixer and add the flour mixture a cup at a time, continually scraping down the walls of the mixer bowl, and working quickly until the ingredients are just blended. Be careful not to overmix, because the semolina, high in gluten, can toughen the canestrelli. The dough will be somewhat crumbly.
  6. Press the dough together into an 8x8 or 9x9-inch baking pan lined with parchment on the bottom.
  7. Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until they begin to blush with color.
  8. Let cool in the pan; when lightly cooled but still warm, score into strips of your desired size. Let cool completely and then remove from pan. They may be stored for two weeks in airtight tins.
Sunday
Jul182010

Sugar and Spice: Almond Cardamom Cookies from Traveler's, Seattle

Down the street from CakeSpy Shop in Seattle's Capitol Hill, there is a sort of hippie food, tea, supplement and gift shop called Travelers. They have a sort of cult following for their chai tea (not to be confused with tai chi, although many of their patrons do that, too).

Now, there's nothing wrong with their chai--nothing at all. But the reason I go there is for the cookies. In particular, the almond cardamom variety.

Chewy, rich, spicy, and lightly sweet, this is kind of like oatmeal cookie meets spice cookie, and both sides become more delicious as a result of their union.

It's the type of cookie that you could probably psych yourself into believing it's healthy, but really, it's not.

It's a simple cookie, but a very good one: and when paired with a spicy chai, it might just whisk you away to a faraway place, if just for a few moments.

Travelers, 501 E Pine Street, Seattle; online here.

Travelers on Urbanspoon

Sunday
Jul182010

Totally Sweet Guest Post: Decorated Party Cookies by Bird Crafts

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Bird, who would like to introduce herself thusly: Hi everyone, I'm Bird from Bird Crafts and I love to blog, chat, craft and design printable party goodies (which you can get at my shop on Etsy). You can also find the full tutorial on her site.

Yep, these are my first decorated cookies. I don't say that to brag, but rather as a huuuuuge disclaimer and perhaps as an incentive for you to have a go too. 'Cause if a total cookie virgin can ("can" being a very loose term here...), then anyone can!

I got my cookie dough recipe and cookie cutters from a baking supplies on-line shop as they make tons of cookies for demonstration purposes, and so I figured their recipe would stand the test. And it did!

It held the intricate frog and butterfly shapes beautifully and tasted great! The only ingredient missing was 2 tea-spoons of bicarbonate of soda or some other raising ingredient, I think.

Anyhow, if you're using this recipe, be sure to persevere until you eventually get a smooth dough like the photo above and refrigerate the dough covered in cling film for at least 2 hours. It is a very short (crumbly) dough and it needs to be chilled before you attack it!

TIP: before rolling your dough, make sure to cover you working surface and rolling pin with flour. It does not say that on the recipe sheet, but I found it helped a lot.

Whilst you let your cookies cool down on the wire rack (Yep, I even attempted lollipop cookies, but that's another post..), prepare your icing.

Now, this was a total guess work but later I discovered the ratio of icing sugar to water is just so the mixture has a syrup consistency and covers the back of a spoon without being too thin (very scientific...NOT). But you'll be able to experiment and get the right consistency after a few attempts. 

TIP: If it's too sloppy, add more sugar. If it's too thick add more water (a few drops at a time).

Add a few drops of liquid food colouring and set aside covered with film so it does not get a crust. 

I must say that if it hadn't been for Wilton's Icing tubes, I would not be writing this post. 

TIP: If you're a novice to icing you should purchase these tubes to practice with, otherwise you may totally lose the will to live...

The tubes are sooo easy to handle even if you don't have very steady hands. Plus, you can simply screw the lid back on and store the rest for another occasion. Please note: Wilton are NOT paying me to say that!

Where were we...Now, draw a thin line all around you cookie. Doesn't have to be neat, you'll be able to re-do it later. You just need a line to act as a barrier holding the thinner icing inside. Fill the gap with the thinner icing you reserved. 

TIP: Don't be tempted to place too much on, otherwise it may run over the lines.

TIP: Use a tooth pick to help you "guide" the icing into the little corners and small spaces. 

TIP: Note that I am decorating the underside of the cookie? This is because the right side is slightly raised in the cooking process and you really need a flat surface to work with - So turn those babies upside down to decorate.

Let your cookies dry over night. I sat mine on a baking tray on my worktop.  

Next day, add the finishing touches to your design, like going over the edges of the cookie one more time with the Wilton's icing tube and adding detailing.
Let the cookies dry another day, but make sure there are no curious hands or teeth about. Place them in cute party bags and make someone's day!

Oh, and I used the cupcake toppers from my Garden Party Collection as favor tags, and my assorted  matching Fabrics as the the background (fabrics coming soon to my shop)! Tags vailable at my Etsy shop.

TIP: Although this whole process takes 3 days you can make the cookies in advance:

1. You can chill the dough and roll it out the next day.

2. You can freeze the baked cookies without the icing

3. You can also freeze the cookies already decorated in a covered plastic container, separated by grease-proof paper. Defrost them covered at room temperature for about 2 hours. They taste basically the same as fresh. Honestly, I tried!

I don't really know how long you can keep them in the freezer for, but I am testing that for you. I guess because the recipe contains butter it wouldn't be advisable to freeze them for longer than 3 months...(CakeSpy Note: but really, will they last that long?)

Saturday
Jul172010

Ask CakeSpy: How Are Oreos Made?

Best use of Oreos: as a s'mores base!Dear CakeSpy,

First off, I'd like to suggest that you start a column called "Ask CakeSpy". First question: How are oreos made? I've been contemplating this for a while.

Sweetly Inquisitive in Santa Cruz

- - - - - - - -

Dear Sweetly Inquisitive,

Do you want the short answer or the long one? How 'bout both?

As for the actual production process, no, they're not made from the leftover bits of other cookies, as one urban legend would have you believe. As I discovered,

According to a statement from Kim McMiller, an Associate Director of Consumer Relations, a two-stage process is used to make Oreo cookies. The base cake dough is formed into the familiar round cookies by a rotary mold at the entrance of a 300-foot-long oven. Much of current Oreo production is done at the Kraft/Nabisco factory in Richmond, Virginia. 

and also, as for the design, it is "stamped out by brass rollers passing over sheets of chocolate dough". (source: NY Times)

However, if you want to get a little more philosophical about how it is that Oreos came to exist, well, let's touch on that too. 

When was it invented? The Oreo, which was originally known as the Oreo Biscuit, made its debut in 1912 from the Nabisco Company in NYC (now the site of the Chelsea Market, btw).

Where does the name come from? Per Wikipedia,

Oreo comes from the Greek root for appetizing as in orexin or orexigenic (appetite stimulating) or anorexic (loss of appetite). There are many theories pointing to the origin of the name 'Oreo', including derivations from the French word 'Or', meaning gold (as early packaging was gold), or the Greek word 'Oros', meaning mountain or hill (as the original Oreo was mound shaped) or even the Greek word 'Oreo', meaning beautiful or nice. Other theories are that the 're' from cream was 'sandwiched' between the two Os from cookie, or the word 'just seemed like a nice, melodic combination of sounds'. A TV spot for the Got Milk? campaign showed a false etymology where, when at a board meeting to decide the name of the cookie, one of the members is asked for his opinion; the member, who just ate a cookie and does not have any milk to wash it down responds "I don't know," which is heard by the board member as "Oreo."

Why and how was it made? Some say that the cookie was developed to sell to the British market, whose cookies (biscuits, to them) were seen by Nabisco to be too humdrum. Originally, Oreo was mound-shaped (perhaps not unlike the cakester?) and available in lemon meringue and cream flavors. They were originally sold in novelty tin cans with glass tops, allowing customers to see the cookies. But, as I learned here, the recipe was changed before they became the oreos we know today:

A newer design for the cookie was introduced in 1916, and as the cream filling was by far the more popular of the two available flavors, Nabisco discontinued production of the lemon meringue filling during the 1920s. The modern-day Oreo was developed in 1952 by William A Turnier, to include the Nabisco logo.TKO: That's French for "Expensive Oreo".

A couple of other facts worth mentioning: 

  • If your mom, like my mom, insisted that Hydrox were "just as good", maybe you should have believed her: apparently, Hydrox cookies, which I'd always assumed to be an Oreo ripoff, were actually invented in 1908--before the Oreo (!).
  • The original Oreo cookies were made with lard in the cream filling; these days, it's made with vegetable oils, or, in some countries, coconut oil.
  • How did I miss this? Banana Split Creme Oreos were available for a limited time in 2008, consisting of cream with a light yellow color and banana flavor.
  • Knew it! Vending machine packs of Oreo cookies from vending machine 6-packs are smaller diameter Oreo cookies with about 10% less mass than regular Oreo cookies.
  • There was a Post cereal called Oreo O's. The cereal was discontinued in 2007.
  • Oreo is on YouTube. No, really.
  • At fancy bakery Bouchon, there is a fancy version of the Oreo called the TKO, "reinterpreted using...chocolate sable dough and a sweet white chocolate ganache filling." One cookie costs about as much as an entire bag of Oreos. I've totally bought one and had no regrets.
  • There is a place in New York called Oreo Way. It’s on 9th Avenue between 15th and 16th streets and was the site of the first Nabisco factory.
  • Oreos are a great s'more base. S'moreos!

Want more? Visit the Wikipedia page on Oreos, or the official Oreo website--you'll also find more on the European Oreo site. You'll also find plenty of lore on The Food Timeline. Got a pressing cake or sweet-related question? Email cakegumshoe@gmail.com!

Monday
Jul122010

Taste the Rainbow: Kaleidoscope Cookies Recipe

Sure, you could get a sweet thrill from checking out the pretty patterns in a kaleidoscope.

But it's much more delicious to taste the rainbow--delivered via crumbly, buttery, colorful Kaleidoscope Cookies.

These cookies were a hit at Crafty Wonderland when Sara Bir served them to go along with Joe Ryckebosch's colorful tape art, and so I knew they'd be the perfect choice to serve at this past weekend's Urban Craft Uprising.

Plus, they were from my BFF cookbook, Betty Crocker's Cooky Book. Yes!

They were a nice echo to the colorful melange of t-shirts with my artwork, and the crowds--no pun intended--ate them up. I made a big batch--perfect for a big crowd. Here's the recipe.

Kaleidoscope Cookies

Adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book  

Makes many (like 60)

 Ingredients

  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 pound 6 ounces (about 4-½ cups) all-purpose flour
  • Various colors of food coloring paste or gel
  • 1 cup or so sprinkles or colored decorating sugar

 

 Procedure

  1. In an electric stand mixer, beat the butter with a paddle attachment until it is creamy. Add the confectioners' sugar and salt and beat for several minutes, until all of the ingredients are well incorporated and no lumps of powdered sugar remain. Beat in the vanilla extract, then add the flour and beat until a soft dough forms.
  2. Divide the dough into 3 parts. Incorporate the food coloring or gel of your choosing into each color--be sure to make the colors quite vibrant, as they will slightly fade in the oven (not much, but a little), and knead until the color is evenly distributed. I left one part white, used a little red food coloring for a pink section, then more red for a red section for mine.
  3. Roll each tinted segment into a log about a foot long. Then squish the three logs into one long log and roll until they form one roll (I got a nice wavy design when I did this).
  4. Gently roll and squish the finished log until it’s about a foot long. Then cut it in half to form two logs and roll each one of those until you have a number of logs that are 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter--it will be quite a few. If desired, place the sprinkles or decorating sugar on a large, shallow plate and roll each log to coat. Wrap the logs in wax or parchment paper and chill overnight or freeze up to a month.
  5. Remove the dough from chilling--if it was in the freezer, let it warm up just until you can handle it, but not until it is soft Preheat oven to 375 F.
  6. Unwrap the logs and, with a sharp knife, slice them into coins about 1/3-inch thick. Place on ungreased cookie sheets (the cookies will not spread much as they bake).
  7. Bake two sheets at a time for about 7-9 minutes, rotating halfway through baking, until the cookies have firmed up but are not browned. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

 

Friday
Jul092010

Sugar Sweet: Sugar and Meringue Presents Cookies for a Cause

Image c/o Sugar & MeringueDid you know that today is National Sugar Cookie Day?

I know. Awesome, right?

But what's even awesomer? How 'bout this sweet online book featuring the sweetest collection of recipes, lore, and info about sugar cookies, designed by Emily (who you may remember from her Star Wars Cookie guest tutorial here!) of Sugar & Meringue.

Not only is this e-book filled with sweet stuff, but it also contributes to a sweet cause. Several pages have a link to donate to The Great American Bake Sale, a sweet (literally!) organization which works to make sure that no kid in America grows up hungry!

Why do this? Well, according to Emily, "I had to create some on-line flip book style catalogs for work, and I thought it would be fun to create a little cookbook or project book for National Sugar Cookie Day. I also wanted to make National Sugar Cookie Day a little more meaningful by tying it to a charity and The Great American Bake Sale seemed like a fitting choice. "

So why not enjoy some cookie dough...and then donate some (non cookie) dough?

Check it all out here.

Tuesday
Jun292010

Mac Attack: Chocolate Peanut Butter Macaroons Recipe

Macaroons don't really get much attention these days--these slightly frumpy, lumpy coconut cookies receive far less attention than their glamorous cousin, the macaron.

But there's a variation which ought to make you take notice: the Chocolate Peanut Butter Macaroon. The result of some kitchen experimenting when I was testing out a recipe for Angel Food Cake Macaroons from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns , this was a decidedly happy outcome, resulting in a cookie which is chewy, moist, and incredibly rich. So rich that adding frosting is excessive, though? Not a chance. Sandwiched with some leftover frosting from my Hartford Election Day cupcakes, these macaroons even approach being cute--but more importantly, they're an absolute dream to eat.

Note: While I used a cake mix recipe for the macaroons, I have a feeling that adding the peanut butter and cocoa to just about any plain coconut macaroon recipe would probably work out fine.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Macaroons Recipe

Adapted from Angel Food Macaroons from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns

- Makes about 48 small cookies -

Ingredients

  • 1 package (16 ounces) Angel Food Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth, or lightly grainy textures, work best--don't use chunky. Or low fat)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • You'll need: Parchment paper, for lining baking sheets

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. Place the cake mix, water, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl; mix in your electric mixer on low speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down sides of the bowl. Increase speed to medium and beat for one more minute. 
  3. Add your peanut butter and cocoa powder and mix on low speed just until incorporated.
  4. Fold in the coconut.
  5. Drop the dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on your prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the macaroons until they are set and just browned lightly on the edges--about 10-12 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper with macaroons on top onto a wire rack to cool for five minutes. Using a small metal spatula, remove the macaroons from the paper. You can re-use the parchment paper if you still have any dough left over as the macaroons will come off quite cleanly.
  7. If desired, once cooled, turn over frost the bottom (flat side) of half of the macaroons and sandwich together with a second one. I used the leftover frosting from this recipe, and man, was it good.
Friday
Jun252010

Sweet Love: A Bakery Crush on Freshly Baked, Los Angeles

Now, there are countless reasons why Freshly Baked, a gourmet cookie company in Los Angeles, deserves your love and sweet affection.

But if pressed, I'd offer these up as some of the primary reasons:

 

  1. Their mission statement, as stated on the front page of their website, may bring tears to your eyes: "Forget about carbs, sugar, and fat grams. Our cookies are meant to be eaten, not analyzed."
  2. Said cookies come in flavors which give shout-outs to, but aren't quite, traditional flavors: for instance, Peanut Butter Chocolate Pretzel, Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip, Strawberry White Chocolate, Banana chocolate Chip Walnut, and Root Beer Float (!). Oh, and they do something called the "OMG" which is comprised of half cookie, half ice cream. Like, OMG!
  3. The cookies all come in hand-graffiti'ed boxes with Keith Haring-esque designs, so that like snowflakes, no two are alike. I'm tempted to say something about the anti cookie-cutter effect...
  4. The company has a sweet story: owner Eric Weston has had a love affair with the cookie since he was a wee lad (he'll show you an adorable photo) and while a talented actor-comedian he decided to take his penchant for unsusal cookie creations to the local LA Derby Doll arena and see if he could sell his wares to all the local hipsters. To his great delight (and theirs), he was a hit and is now delivering his goods to all the hip coffee shops all around town!

 

Of course, these cookies were recommended by Cake Gumshoe Renee, who says that the "cookies are crackalicious, seriously. I'm very persnickety about my cookie selections, but his Nutty Bavarain Love Biscuit (peanut butter chocolate pretzel) cookie makes me want to curse with pleasure."

Freshly Baked will soon be debuting a cookie truck which will deliver mobile cookies throughout LA; til then, cookies are currently available at various coffee shops in the Los Angeles area, and can be special ordered for local delivery or nationwide shipment; find out more on their site, freshly-baked.com. Oh, and you can follow them on Twitter, if you're into that.

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