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Entries in Cookies (157)

Monday
Apr122010

Sublime: The Lime Cornmeal Cookie from Amy's Bread, NYC

Today I'd like to tell you about the subtle but sublime pleasure that is the Lime Cornmeal Cookie from Amy's Bread in NYC.

This cookie isn't flashy in appearance--it's actually rather unassuming. It would be easy to pass it up for something more classic like chocolate chip or oatmeal, or for something sexier like the double chocolate pecan.

But if you do opt for it, you're in for a sweet reward.

The crumb is lightly coarse and gritty-textured from the cornmeal, but a healthy amount of butter somehow keeps it tender and cohesive (happily, it doesn't crumble apart like its cousin cornbread likes to), and the sugar and lime add sweet and tart hints that perhaps don't sing, but definitely hum, in a very pleasing way. 

A lightly sweet cookie like this is refreshing and hearty all at once--and the cornbread almost makes it feel healthy. At least healthy enough that I'd consider it a completely appropriate breakfast cookie.

Amy's Bread has three NYC locations; visit their website, amysbread.com, to find out more. If you're not in NYC, the recipe for this cookie can be found in the book The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread: Cakes, Cookies, Bars, Pastries and More from New York City's Favorite Bakery.

Monday
Apr052010

Sweet Seconds: Leftover Easter Candy Cookies for Serious Eats

In my mind, Easter candy falls into one of two categories. There are the show pieces—the chocolate bunny, Cadbury Creme eggs, and those addictive Reese's peanut butter eggs, for instance—which tend to disappear rapidly. And then there's the filler—the jelly beans, the Peeps, and those little malted eggs, which look pretty in the basket but aren't consumed quite as quickly.

But I feel for the filler, really I do, and so I tried my hand at designing a desirable delivery vehicle for these assorted pastel leftovers: the Leftover Easter Candy Cookie. I started out with a basic drop cookie recipe and added in a cup of assorted leftovers, including Easter corn, jelly beans, cut-up Peeps, and malted egg candies.

To read the full entry and find the recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Sunday
Apr042010

Stock Up on Delicious: Economic Crunch Cookies by Sugar Bakery and Cafe, Seattle

The phrase "economic crunch" is pretty common these days, and usually it does not have a positive connotation.

However, at Sugar Bakery + Cafe in Seattle, the economic crunch is delicious.

"Economic Crunch Cookies" as they call them, are of one of the tastiest cookies I've sampled in a while: a crunchy sugar cookie made with almonds, toffee, chocolate, coconut, all of which is coated in coarse, sparkly sugar.

They are crunchy, savory, sweet, lightly salty, and chewy, all at once: this is to say, basically, they hit all the bases of what makes a cookie awesome...simultaneously. 

Or, as owner Stephanie Crocker (no relation to Betty), so aptly puts it: "They are like crack cookies so watch out…".

To taste the crunch for yourself, visit Sugar Bakery + Cafe at 1014 Madison Street, Seattle (be sure to call ahead to ensure availability of the cookies); or check 'em out online at sugarbakerycafe.com.

Tuesday
Mar302010

Cookie Question: What's the Difference Between Macarons and Macaroons?

It's a true cookie mystery: what's the deal with macarons and macaroons? After all, their names are very similar, but the cookies are seemingly very different: one is a refined, Frenchie sweetburger, and the other a frumpy lump of coconut flakes.

But you know what? They are in fact related. While they may not be part of the same immediate family, they definitely come from the same family tree. Here's an excerpt from a CakeSpy post on macaroons which was originally posted in April 2008.

The Macaron: While there is evidence of meringue-type cookies going as far back as the 1500s, as I learned from Wikipedia, the macaron in its current form is generally accepted as taking shape in the late 1700s when two Benedictine nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth were seeking asylum in the town of Nancy during the French Revolution, and paid for their housing by baking and selling the macaron cookies. However, these original macarons were simply cookie rounds--it wasn't until the 1930s that fancy tea room Ladurée began serving the cookies in a new way, with a sweet ganache filling between two of the traditional rounds. Naturally, the sweet filling and flavor and texture contrast caught on, and the l'il Luxembourgers began to take the world by storm (read more about the Frenchie ones in this fantastic writeup by one of my favorite foodies, Robyn Lee).

The Macaroon: However, veering on a different path than Ladurée, as I learned from The Nibble, the cookie also gained popularity with the Italian Jewish population because it requires no flour or leavening (the agent that raises and lightens a baked good, like yeast, baking powder and baking soda—instead, macaroons are leavened by egg whites) and can be enjoyed during Passover. Naturally, due to a high level of deliciousness, it gained popularity all over Europe as a year-round sweet, and regional variations popped up. The coconut macaroon seems to have gained popularity first in Glasgow, Scotland; it is most likely from here that it hopped over the pond and captured the hearts of Americans.

So, there you have it--the story of one humble cookie which has taken two very different paths--with countless other small variations on both styles. Of course, as with so many things, this knowledge is best applied with real-life experience, and so I suggest you eat one of each, macaroon and macaron, as soon as possible.

Tuesday
Mar302010

Fail, Saved: Making Good of a Bad Recipe

Last week I bought this adorable Springtime Linzer Cookie Cutter Set from Cookies in Seattle, for my weekly Serious Eats post (which you can check out here).

However, before I found recipe success, I had to deal with recipe failure.

Being infinitely curious about back-of-the-box recipes, I decided to first try the recipe printed on the back of the kit.

Here's what they looked like before they went in the oven:

and here's what they looked like when they came out.

Noooo! Where could I have gone wrong? The original recipe suggested letting the dough rest for 2 hours; I let it rest overnight. Too long?

Regardless of appearance, the cookies still did taste good: almost like sugar cookie crackers.

And when sandwiched with a thick dollop of lemon curd in the middle, these crunchy cookie sandwiches would almost have you believe they'd been made this way on purpose.

Here's the recipe (which, by the way, I would not suggest if you want perfectly formed cutout cookies--rather, try this one instead). I am writing it as it appeared on the package, but with steps 4 and 5 the perfect cutouts might not work the way you'd like, if my experience was any indication:

Failed Linzer Cookies (AKA Sugar Cookie Crackers)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour

to fill:

  • 1 jar lemon curd (or whatever preserves you'd like, or frosting, etc)

 Procedure

  1. Mix butter, orange extract and sugar.
  2. Stir in one cup of flour at a time, mixing well.
  3. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours.
  4. Roll out 1/2 of dough on a cookie sheet to 1/4 inch thick and chill 30 more minutes. Cut with the Linzer cutter without an insert. Remove excess dough and bake at 350 for 12 minutes.
  5. Roll out the other half of the dough on a second cookie sheet, once again chilling for 30 minutes. Cut with the Linzer Cutter fitted with the insert or inserts of your choice. Remove excess dough and bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Cool completely.
  6. If your cookies came out Linzer-iffic, then good for you (jerk). If not, sandwich them with lemon curd or your choice of filling and enjoy.
Sunday
Mar282010

King Corn: Cornmeal Blueberry Cookie Bars

So, when I first encountered a review copy of the book Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours, I have to confess, I had my doubts. The concept--a book of recipes for baked goods (both sweet and savory) using whole grain flours sounded vaguely...virtuous.

But once assured that they still did include plenty of sugar and butter, I figured it was worth a try.

And after looking through the book (and lovingly, at some of the pictures), I decided to try the cornmeal blueberry cookies. Why? Well, for one thing, I like cookies, and I like corn muffins, and these kind of sounded somewhere in between. Plus, I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand.

Well, I veered a little from the original recipe: for one thing, I used frozen instead of dried blueberries, dehydrating them by baking them at 200 degrees farenheit for a few hours to dry them out; and second, instead of cookies I made my batch as bars, using an 8x8-inch pyrex baking sheet. Because I had dehydrated the berries and they weren't completely dried, I placed them on top of the batter rather than mixing it in; however, even with these changes, the yield was a very dense and pleasing bar, like cornbread meets sugar cookie, with a nice tart edge from the berries.

Here's the recipe.

Cornmeal Blueberry Cookie Bars

Adapted from Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours

Dry mix:

  • 2 cups corn flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (I used Secret Stash Sea Salt's Pistachio cherry)

Wet Mix:

  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup dried blueberries (I had frozen; I baked them for a couple of hours at 200 degrees to dehydrate them)

Finish:

1/2 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)

Procedure

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 F. Rub your baking pan with butter.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the butter and brown sugar to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to low speed and mix until the butter and sugar are combined, then increase the speed to medium and cream for 2 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is combined. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and blend on low speed until the flour is just barely combined, about 20-30 seconds (it's very pretty to watch). Scrabe down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the milk (and if you're using dried, add the blueberries now). Slowly mix until the dough is evenly combined.
  5. Spoon your batter (it will be thick) into your prepared pan, spreading with a spatula to even out the top. Sprinkle the dehydrated blueberries and finishing sugar on top. (or, if you want to make cookies, pour the sugar into a bowl scoop mounds of dough, each about 3 tablespoons in size, form into balls, and set on a plate; dip each ball into the sugar, coating it lightly; arrange the balls on baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between them--balls that don't fit on the first baking sheet can be dipped in the sugar and chilled til ready to bake).
  6. Bake the bars for somewhere between 20-30 (possibly a few more) minutes depending on your pan size (more minutes for a taller pan, less for a shallower pan); (20-22 for cookies), rotating the sheet at about 10 minutes. The bars will puff up and crack at the top and are ready to come out when the sugar crustis golden brown and the cracks still faintly yellow.
  7. These bars / cookies are best eaten warm from the oven or the same day. But, if you must, they'll keep in an airtight container (at room temperature) for up to 3 days.
Monday
Mar222010

Spring in Your Step: Springtime Cutout Sandwich Cookies for Serious Eats

In case you couldn't tell by the proliferance of Cadbury Creme Eggs, Peeps, and pastel-hued jelly beans in grocery stores, Easter is coming.

Now, it's not to say that I don't enjoy these adorable seasonal sweets, but when push comes to shove, I simply prefer baked goods. So, in an effort to get a piece of that pastel-hued cuteness while also enjoying a delicious, buttery, and substantial sugary treat, I've created these Springtime Cutout Sandwich Cookies.

These were made using an adorable Springtime Linzer Cookie kit I found at Cookies, a thimble-sized shop chock full of all manner of cookie cutters in Seattle, but I veered a bit from the traditional Linzer cookie construction. These sweet sandwiches start with a buttery sugar cookie cutout recipe, filled with lemon curd for a sweet and rich zing, and topped with pastel sugar for a sweet springtime palette.

For the full writeup and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Monday
Mar082010

Gimme More: Pisco-Infused Alfajores Recipe

C is for Cookie, but A is for Alfajor.

Say what?

If you've never heard of them, alfajores are definitely one to add to your alphabet of sweets: a delectable type of crumbly cookie commonly sandwiched with indulgent dulce de leche.

Though most commonly associated with South American countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Paraguay, Chile, Perú and the South of Brazil, these cookies actually take their roots in the Arab World: per Wikipedia, "the name alfajor is derived from Arabic الفاخر, which means "fancy" or "great" sweets. The archetypal alfajor entered Iberia during the period of al-Andalus."

Though this sweet treat has a long history, I took a more modern approach by making a Pisco-infused batch (with thanks to Gran Sierpe, who kindly donated some Pisco, a Peruvian brandy, with which to test out some recipes). The brandy adds a slightly sophisticated bite to the sweet cookies, compelling you to take bite after bite to try to figure out the source of the je ne sais quoi.

Want to make your own? Here's the recipe I used.

Alfajores

Adapted from About.com's South American Food

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Pisco (I used Gran Sierpe)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup dulce de leche, OR 1 cup vanilla buttercream, for filling
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut, finely chopped (optional)

 

Procedure

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the cornstarch, flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix briefly.
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture, blending with your fingers until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and Pisco, and mix with your hands until the dough is homogeneous and smooth. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. For this step, either follow the original recipe by rolling out dough to 3/8" thickness, and cutting into 2 inch circles--OR, do as I did and roll the dough into a log and then slice cookies to your desired thickness (I liked fat ones, maybe 1/4 inch thick).  Place cookies on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake cookies for 10-15 minutes, until they are barely golden brown. Let cookies cook 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to rack to cool completely (they are quite fragile until they cool).
  7. To fill the cookies, spread one cookie with dulce de leche and top with second cookie (note: as I found out, buttercream works beautifully too--picture below). If desired, roll the edges in the coconut. Store in an airtight container.

Monday
Mar082010

Peppermint Sweet: Homemade Thin Mints a la Baking Bites for Serious Eats

Smug, smug little Girl Scouts. Those sweet little sugar pushers can be found all over around this time of year, lurking outside of drugstores and markets with their addictive little missives of sweet cookies.

Oh, they seem so friendly and accommodating now. But what happens in a month or so, when they're gone and you've got a serious jonesing for some Samoas or Thin Mints?

You make your own, that's what you do.

Armed with a recipe from Baking Bites, I tested out a batch of my favorite, Thin Mints. While I wouldn't say that they're a clone version of the boxed kind (the texture is a little different, and the taste a little...fancier), they will indeed give you that much needed fix. Now if only I could figure out how to make a little plastic sleeve for them to fit in...

For the full writeup and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Thursday
Feb182010

Ringing It In: Olympic Ring Cookies for Serious Eats

The Olympics: a time to celebrate the infinite abilities of the human body and spirit.

Of course, if you're more of an armchair athlete, you'll be happy to have plenty of cookies to keep you company while watching those sporty types do their thing.

While my original hope was to link the cookies together in the tradition of Betty Crocker's Magic Rings, it didn't quite work out; however, when trimmed while still warm and fitted together, they form a lovely Olympic ring, served as a unit that is basically an excuse to eat five delicious cookies at once. And with cookies like this--lightly chewy in the center, crisp on the edges, and full of butter-sweet flavor, you may just find yourself going at these like it's an Olympic sport.

For the full post and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

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