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Entries in Cookies (163)

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!

Wednesday
Feb102010

Wining and Dining: Red Wine Valentine Cookies from The Hot Cookie

When CakeSpy contributor Sarah of The Hot Cookie sent over the recipe for these cookies, I first saw the light pink hue and sesame seeds in the rolling pictures (below) and thought "sushi cookies!". Well, no, but reading on I learned they were something far more delicious: Red Wine Valentines. Infused with buttery flavor cut with sweet and tart wine, these sweet treats will undoubtedly set the tone for romance--as Sarah wisely says,

Fewer things can be more meaningful than a homemade treat. Whether it's made by your own hands or crafted from an independent bakery, these Red Wine Valentine cookies will spark an interest in your other's eyes.

Here's the recipe:
Red Wine Valentines

Ingredients
  • ½ cup port wine
  • 2 Tbsp. beet juice*
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 3 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup dried currants
  • Sesame seeds
Procedure
  1. In a small sauce pan bring wine and beet juice to a boil. Once boiling occurs, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20-22 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, orange zest, and cooled wine/beet reduction. Mix until combined.
  4. Mix in flour mixture until just incorporated. Add currants.
  5. Divide dough into thirds and roll into logs about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap dough logs with wax paper or parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Unwrap dough and roll/press dough into sesame seeds.
  8. Slice log into ¼ inch slices. Place on greased or parchment lined baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are firm and centers appear undercooked. Let cool on baking sheet.

About the contributor: The Hot Cookie is a small, all-natural cookie company in Indianapolis run by two go-local/pro-green ladies with a thirst for life and a hunger for sweets. All of their two-bite cookies are made in small batches with as many high quality, local, and organic ingredients available.

You can shop here, visit the website here, and keep up to date via their blog!

Tuesday
Feb022010

Peanutty Buddies: The Famous Salted Peanut Crisps of 1950-55

So, I wasn't actually alive in 1950, but if I had been, I can tell you what cookie I would have been eating: the Salted Peanut Crisp. According to my favorite source for all things cookie, the Betty Crocker's Cooky Book , this cookie was in high demand mid-century. As the recipe introduction notes,

Cookies Please the Younger Set -- The baby boom, begun following World War II, continues in the new decade. With "kids" in the house, cookies disappear like magic and "moms" need quick and easy cookies like this one.

Now, perhaps it's not so unexpected that recipes containing peanuts in general were rising in popularity during this time--during the war, when meat shortages were common, peanuts and peanut butter became a much valued source of inexpensive protein. Of course, after becoming hooked on its deliciousness, peanut butter sandwiches were to become an enduring staple in lunches everywhere, and the cookies and confections containing the rich, flavorful stuff were here to stay.

And to that point, as is further noted in the recipe intro,

One of our home testers wrote, "My 12-year old son carried them out by the handful." "Only modesty prevents me from calling them perfect plus," said another tester.

And you know what? Over 50 years later, I concur. Of course, I made a couple small alterations in the recipe to better suit them for modern times--first, where the original calls for 2 cups of salted peanuts, I did about 1 cup salted peanuts and 1 cup peanut butter; this gave them a nice density and chewiness. Second, instead of dropping the dough on the cookie sheet by teaspoonfuls, I went ahead and used an ice cream scoop--so instead of 6 dozen small cookies, I got about 2 dozen jumbo cookies, some of which I stuffed with mini peanut butter cups inside the dough for an even more decadent outcome. And it turns out that bigger and more decadent is even better: these cookies managed to turn at least one peanut butter cookie hater into a believer, and I hear that they even derailed an Atkins Diet follower. Yes!

Here's the recipe:

Salted Peanut Butter Crisps 

(Note: Though they are officially "Salted Peanut Crisps", since I added peanut butter too I have taken liberties)

Adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book  

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup salted peanuts
  • 1 cup peanut butter 

(Note: original recipe calls for 2 cups salted peanuts and no peanut butter; feel free to play with the ratios)

Procedure

  1. Grease or line a baking sheet with parchment; put to the side.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (original recipe calls for 375 but I found a longer bake at the lower temperature worked better, possibly because I made my cookies bigger).
  3. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla thoroughly.
  4. Sift flour and blend with soda and salt; stir in with wet ingredients. Mix in peanuts and peanut butter.
  5. Using a cookie or ice cream scoop, scoop the dough and release onto your prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies. If desired, place a mini peanut butter cup in the center of the dough while it is still in the scoop, shaping the dough around it so that the dough fully covers the candy before releasing it on to the baking sheet. 
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges (if you make your cookies smaller, it may be more like 8-10 minutes).
Tuesday
Jan192010

Drop It Like It's Hot: The Famous Oatmeal Drop Cookies of 1900-1910

If you had been around on this day 100 years ago, what would life be like?

Well, you'd be fresh off of the 19-aughts, a tremendously eventful decade, marked with the opening of Fannie Farmer's Boston Cooking School, the first successful flight by the Wright brothers, and the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.

But even more importantly--if you had been around 100 years ago, what kind of cookies would you be eating? 

Probably Oatmeal Drop Cookies.

Per Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, this was the cookie of the decade:

Now, oats were hardly a new thing, but they had recently enjoyed some new developments in the US--according to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America by Andrew F. Smith,

In 1877, rolled oats were developed and trademarked by Henry D. Seymour and William Heston, who had established the Quaker Mill Company. The product was baked in cardboard boxes...In 1901, the Quaker Mill Company merged with other mills, and became the Quaker Oats Company. Directions for cooking oatmeal were printed on the outside of the Quaker box. These recipes, in turn, were reprinted in community and other cookbooks, and oatmeal became more popular as a cooking ingredient. During the twentieth century many new oatmeal recipes were published, including ones for soup, cakes, cookies, wafers, drops, maracroons, quick breads and yeast breads, muffins, scones, and pancakes. 

And so began the rise of the mighty oat in American culture.

Now, the original recipe calls for raisins, but figuring that a century of baking advances should allow for some experimentation in the name of deliciousness, I used milk chocolate chunks instead. Guess what? It worked beautifully. No, they might not be exactly the same as the ones enjoyed 100 years ago, but then again they didn't have the internet 100 years ago either--that is to say, sometimes innovation can be a good thing.

Oatmeal Drop Cookies

adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

Makes about 36 cookies 

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup milk chocolate (such as Lindt), cut into coarse chunks

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees (original recipe calls for 400, but I found that 350 worked better for me).
  2. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, and molasses thoroughly. 
  3. Stir the flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon together; blend in bit by bit with the wet ingredients until incorporated.
  4. Stir in oats, nuts, and chocolate. Use either a cookie scoop or spoon to drop dough by rounded spoonfuls about 2 inches apart on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. (original recipe calls for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees)

 

Monday
Dec142009

Sweet Variation: Alternate Construction for the Berlinerkranser

Norwegian butter cookies
Do you like the idea of the berlinerkranser , but not the idea of rolling and twisting dozens of cookies? Happily, there is a variation on the cookie which is a bit faster but no less delicious: using the same dough, the cookies can be formed into buttery little thumbprint cookies with pretty sprinkles on the side. Here's the recipe variation:

Berlinerkranser, Reconstructed

- makes about 36 cookies -

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange rind
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • red and green candied cherries
  • (optional) red and green sprinkles, mixed together in a small dish

Procedure

  1. Mix butter, 1 cup sugar, orange rind, and eggs thoroughly. Stir in sifted flour until fully incorporated. Chill dough.
  2. Heat oven to 400°F. Break off small pieces of dough and roll into circles, a little smaller than a ping pong ball.
  3. With a finger, press an indent into each cookie and press a piece of candied cherry in the indent. If desired, roll the sides of the cookie in red and green sprinkles for a pretty effect.
  4. Bake for 12 minutes, or until set but not brown.

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