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Entries in Cookies (165)

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.

Monday
Nov302009

Sweet Seconds: Thanksgiving Leftover Cranberry Nut Bars for Serious Eats

Thanksgiving Leftover Cranberry nut Squares for Serious Eats

The year's biggest eating weekend is over (sigh). But there's definitely some sweet eating to be had from the little leftovers left, as proven by these cranberry nut squares. This is a revamped version of a pecan bar but composed instead with leftover cranberry sauce and the mixed nuts that played a supporting role in so many Thanksgiving recipes. The result is surprisingly addictive: sweet, salty, tart, and buttery, all at once.

Not only will you enjoy eating them, but you'll also feel a sense of accomplishment at finishing some of the slower-moving Thanksgiving leftovers.
Thanksgiving Leftover Cranberry nut Squares for Serious Eats
You can find the full recipe at Serious Eats!

Friday
Nov202009

Minty Sweet: Peppermint Whoopie Pies by Kitchen Witch

Peppermint whoopie pie
When I unexpectedly found myself with a $25 gift certificate for RegionalBest.com (thanks Keren!), I immediately set myself to the task of buying the most delicious-looking thing that cost closest to $25 including shipping. The result? A half-dozen peppermint Whoopie Pies from Kitchen Witch, a holiday take on the Amish / New England classic. And at $27.50 including shipping, they fit the bill.
Kitchen WitchPeppermint Whoopie Pie
Proud of my prowess for bargain-hunting, I promptly forgot about the purchase, but was delighted to receive a package marked "Perishable" a few days later. Opening up the box, the pies were safely nestled below packing material in an airtight baggie, in which they were individually wrapped in the traditional plastic wrap. Happily, half of the cakey cookie part did not come off with the plastic wrap when opened (a whoopie pie pet peeve!).
Peppermint Whoopie Pie from Kitchen Witch
So how does a peppermint whoopie pie taste? Pretty good, I must say. The cakey part was extremely moist and chocolatey, and the peppermint filling was the of the traditional creamy, slightly slick texture which usually inhabits the inner section of a whoopie pie, but with a light peppermint flavor. Kind of like a very big, cakey peppermint patty. It was very easy to eat--the only problem was how quickly and easily it disappeared. Luckily the portions are fairly modest as whoopie pies go--i.e., not the size of a saucer--so you feel pretty good about having a bite (or three) of a second pie. At least I did.

Kitchen Witch cookies can be found on RegionalBest.com or on Etsy.

Monday
Nov162009

Candy Stripes: Candy Cane Cookies Recipe

Candy Cane Cookies
CakeSpy Note: Too early for Christmas cookies? No such thing. And so even though it's before Thanksgiving, Christmas Cookie madness has already begun  here!

As much fun as it is to mess with recipes, sometimes you just can't mess with perfection. Such is the case with the candy cane cookies from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book , a recipe which I've been making for years. Aside from the fact that I take an all-butter rather than part shortening route, not once have I strayed from the original recipe, and not once have I been let down. They're easy to make, unmistakably festive for the holidays, and very delicious.
Candy Cane Cookies


Candy Cane Cookies
-makes about 4 dozen -

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter 
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • red food coloring

Procedure
  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Mix butter, sugar, egg, and flavorings thoroughly. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting; mix flour and salt; stir into the wet mixture.
  3. Divide dough in half; blend red food coloring into one half.
  4. Roll a 4-inch strip from each color. For smooth, even strips, roll them back and forth on a lightly floured board. Place strips side by side, press lightly together and twist like rope. For best results, complete cookies one at a time--if all the dough of one color is shaped first, strips become too dry to twist. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Curve top down to form the handle of the candy cane. Note: If you want a variation, you can also place strips side by side and roll them into a spiral and affix small triangles of white dough on either end, to have the look of starlight mints like in the picture on the top of this post!
  5. Bake about 9 minutes, until lightly browned. While still warm, remove from baking sheet with spatula; if desired, sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and/or crushed candy canes.

Tuesday
Nov102009

Seeing Stars: Cinnamon Star Holiday Cookie Recipe from Bredenbeck's Bakery of Philadelphia

Cinnamon Stars from Bredenbeck's Bakery, Philadelphia
When I used to work at a greeting card company, we had to work on our Christmas designs as early as February or March. Sometimes, to get ourselves in the mood, we'd bring in Christmas cookies--which tasted just as good in the spring as they had just a few months before. And with that in mind, let me say that I definitely don't consider pre-Thanksgiving too early to break out some delicious cookie recipes. So let's bring it on, starting with this spicy, moist and chewy cinnamon cookie--a recipe for the best-selling holiday cookie at Philadelphia's Bredenbeck's Bakery:

Cinnamon Stars

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (about 8 oz.) hazelnuts or blanched almonds, finely ground
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp lemon zest, grated
  • 1/4 cup egg whites (about 2 large)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • About 1/2 cup additional confectioner’s sugar for rolling

Procedure
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Combine the nuts, cinnamon, and zest. Beat the egg whites at high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. Add the salt, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form, one to two minutes. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar and beat until stiff and glossy, five to eight minutes. Reserve about 1/3 cup of the meringue and fold the nut mixture into the remaining meringue.
  2. Place a large sheet of waxed paper on a flat surface, and cover with additional confectioner’s sugar. Place the nut mixture on the sugar, lightly sprinkle with more confectioner’s sugar, top with a second piece of waxed paper, and roll out one-quarter-inch thick. Remove the top piece of waxed paper. Using a cookie cutter dipped in water, cut into two-inch star shapes, or use a knife to cut into diamonds. Re-roll and cut any scraps. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake until set, 10 to 12 minutes. Spread the reserved meringue over the top of the cookies and bake until the tops are lightly colored, about five minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to three weeks. Makes about 36 two-inch cookies.

Care to hear more about the bakery? OK! Here's the 411:  Located in the heart of Chestnut Hill, Bredenbeck’s is famous for its delicious butter cookies, fancy miniatures and gourmet wedding cakes, all baked on premises. The historic shop is located at 8126 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 215-247-7374 or online at bredenbecks.com.

Sunday
Nov082009

Praline Solution: Easy Praline Squares From Amarillo

"Easy Praline Squares"
The bad news: this sweet confection looks like a praline bomb went off on a graham cracker minefield.
The good news: the outcome is extremely delicious.


When Cake Gumshoe Chris recently found a book at a secondhand store full of recipes from food writers from throughout the nation, we knew we had to take some of these recipes for a test spin. This recipe comes c/o Beth Whitley Duke, who was at the time of the book's publication the food editor at the Amarillo Globe-News, who introduced the recipe in this way:
Pralines are a traditional Mexican sweet served to take the fire out of a hot Tex-Mex meal. These easy squares use graham crackers as a base for a praline taste without having to make the actual brown sugar candy.

These sweet little squares truly are, as the recipe indicates, easy as can be--with a wonderful return. During the baking, the brown sugar/butter mixture seeps into the cracker, rendering it crunchy on the edges but slightly chewier inside, and the candy-coating gives the walnuts a completely addictive rich, savory-meets-sweet flavor. Adding milk chocolate, like we did, wasn't necessary, but it sure was good.
Oh, and as a note, if you're curious about the addition of cream of tartar (we were!), I looked it up: according to this site,
while it is best known in our kitchens for giving more volume to beaten egg whites...it is also used to produce a creamier texture in sugary desserts such as candy and frosting, because it inhibits the formation of crystals.
So there you go! But on to the goods. Here's the recipe:
Making the toffee coating
Easy Praline Squares
-Makes about 2 dozen cookies -

 

 

  • Graham crackers
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 10 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup walnuts (original recipe called for finely chopped pecans, but the walnuts were heavenly)
  • 1 large bar milk chocolate, such as Lindt, coarsely chopped (optional)
Procedure
  1. Break enough graham crackers into individual rectangles to cover the bottom of a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan.
  2. In a saucepan, bring brown sugar and butter to a boil.
  3. Add cream of tartar and walnuts (or pecans) to the boiling mixture. Pour over graham crackers and spread as evenly as you can (it's a pretty thick mixture so it's best if you only spread one way rather than going back and forth). Scatter the chocolate on top, if you've chosen to add it.
  4. Bake in a 325 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the chocolate has gotten melty and the sugar mixture is lightly bubbling. Remove from the pan while still warm.
Graham cracker pralines

 

 

 

Thursday
Sep242009

Drunken Cookies: The Hot Cookie Presents the Jagerdoodle

Jägerdoodles
CakeSpy Note: This is a guest blog post from Sarah of The Hot Cookie. Looking for a creative new cookie idea? Look no further:

What in the devil is a Jägerdoodle?

Well dear, when a Snickerdoodle and a shot of Jagermeister fall in love...umm...uh, I'll tell you when you're older.

Now, this is not necessarily an easy sell of a cookie. When I told my mom that I made a Jäger-y cookie, she asked me twice if I really put Jäger in the cookies. The answer was yes both times. Hence the name, ma. (Don't hate me for teasing you. Remember, you love me very much.)

Here the doodles are all dressed up in sugar and anise. Yes, anise. It enhances the Jageriness. Brace yourselves...bold flavor straight ahead. These spicy morsels can trick the eye, but definitely not the nose. You can smell that licorice-y goodness a mile away. It was torture for cookie-taster Karli, who is no fan of black licorice. What Jägermeister blasphemy!

Want to make your own Drunken Snickerdoodles or Jägerdoodles? Here is a basic field guide:

  • Prepare your favorite Snickerdoodle dough, using Jägermeister in place of the vanilla extract and anise in place of cinnamon. 
  • Eat them heartily with a tall glass of Jager...I mean milk...with a chaser of Jager...or...nevermind. 
  • You can also experiment with your favorite liquors and make an assortment of Drunken Snickerdoodles! Sounds like a party to me!

Sarah Richcreek and Karli Kujawa are the co-owners of The Hot Cookie. The two bake tiny, all-natural artisan cookies by hand for the good of humanity in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can keep updated on their goings-on via their blog, or (better yet!) buy their cookies online here.

 

Wednesday
Sep162009

Getting Baked: Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Baked Cookbook

Chocolate Chip walnut cookies
How many times have I said that you simply must buy Baked: New Frontiers in Baking?

Well, if you don't own it, clearly I haven't said it enough. Here's how the book has renewed its place in my heart yet again this week: the absolutely perfect Baked chocolate chip cookie.

Now, I have made a fair share of chocolate chip cookies in my life, and am more than willing to admit that while they've been good, they've never been perfect. And while I don't want to go all dramatic on you and say these are the best chocolate chip cookies ever, I can say with absolutely no hesitation that these are the best cookies that have ever come out of my kitchen: chewy in the middle, ever-so-slightly crispy on the outside, slightly puffy and not too flat.

The secret? Well, at their retail location I suspect that they probably put crack in the cookies, but the recipe owes its awesomeness to stressing the importance of fresh ingredients: I promise, if you use fancy butter, fresh eggs, and real vanilla, it really makes all the difference.

I only messed with their recipe slightly, omitting 2/3 cup of the chocolate chips and substituting walnuts. If you like your chocolate chip cookies a little fancy, it's a delicious variation.

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Ever so slightly adapted from the recipe in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup walnuts


Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy. Scrape down bowl and add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Mixture will look light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat for 5 seconds.
  3. Add the flour mixture, bit by bit, mixing after each addition.
  4. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Cover the bowl tightly and put in the fridge for several hours (Baked suggests 6; I did 2 and they were still delicious).
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 F degrees.
  7. If you want big cookies, use an ice cream scoop to scoop out 2-tablespoon sized balls. If you want smaller ones, use two teaspoons (one to scoop the dough and one to release it). Use your hands to shape into perfect balls and erase any imperfections. Place on prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 1 inch between cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes for smaller cookies, 12-14 minutes for larger cookies. Make sure to rotate pans at the halfway mark to ensure even baking. They're done when the edges are golden and the tops are just starting to lose their shine.
  8. Remove pan from oven and cool on wire rack. They are great warm, but you could also let them cool, if you're so inclined.
  9. These babies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Doubt they'll last that long though.

 

Sunday
Sep062009

Sweet Freedom: Nut, Egg, and Dairy-Free Cookies by HomeFree

Cookies by Home Free
Every so often we receive product samples, and a parcel of chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies from HomeFree Baking was intriguing, not because of what was in them...but what they were without.

Made in a dedicated allergen-free kitchen, these cookies are (wait for it): peanut free, tree nut free, dairy free, and egg free (in addition to being suitable for some wheat and soy allergies, although the cookies do contain oats and soy lethicin). The cookies also contain no trans fat or cholesterol, and are made without corn sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial flavors, MSG, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Cookies by Home FreeCookies by Home Free
It begged the question: if they're devoid of all of these things...what is in these cookies? Well, here's the ingredient list for the chocolate chip cookies, in case you're curious:

 

Organic whole barley flour, organic cane sugar, natural chocolate chips (sugar, chocolate liqueur, non-dairy cocoa butter, anhydrous dextrose, soy lecithin [an emulsifier], vanilla extract), organic oleic safflower oil, organic tapioca starch, organic whole oat flour, organic turbinado sugar, pear juice from concentrate, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), organic vanilla extract, salt, baking powder (non-aluminum), soy lecithin (an emulsifier), xanthan gum, cream of tartar, rosemary extract.

 

So how did they taste?

The mini chocolate chip cookies were very crunchy, and while the flavor was sweet and nicely balanced, it lacked the richness that I usually expect from a chocolate chip cookie, instead bearing more of a dry, crackery sweetness.

The singly-packaged oatmeal cookie was a lot softer, and smelled sweetly spicy upon opening the package. The texture was very nice, lightly crumbling but moist. The taste was lightly sweet, but overall we couldn't get past the fact that it tasted like a "healthy" cookie--almost like the outside of a Nutri-grain bar, but without the filling. While this is not an unpleasant flavor, sometimes you look for something a bit mroe indulgent in a cookie. Overall though, the more delicate flavor and softer texture of this cookie made it our favorite of the two styles sampled.

Final thoughts? These cookies are quite impressive considering all of the ingredient challenges they face--I mean, they're basically cookies made without the key ingredients of most classic cookies. If you do suffer from allergies, they are a great way to get your sweet fix without too much compromise; also, for parents bringing treats to their children's schools, they're a great choice because they're probably going to be safe for most children with allergies. However, I've got to say that Chez CakeSpy, ultimately we're probably going to stick with the real thing.

Want to try them yourself? Check out their site at homefreetreats.com.

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