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.
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!).
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.
Entries in Cookies (172)
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
-makes about 4 dozen -
- 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
- Heat oven to 375 F.
- Mix butter, sugar, egg, and flavorings thoroughly. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting; mix flour and salt; stir into the wet mixture.
- Divide dough in half; blend red food coloring into one half.
- 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!
- 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.
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:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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)
- Break enough graham crackers into individual rectangles to cover the bottom of a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan.
- In a saucepan, bring brown sugar and butter to a boil.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
- 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
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together; set aside.
- 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.
- Add the flour mixture, bit by bit, mixing after each addition.
- Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the chocolate chips.
- Cover the bowl tightly and put in the fridge for several hours (Baked suggests 6; I did 2 and they were still delicious).
- Preheat the oven to 375 F degrees.
- 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.
- 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.
- These babies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Doubt they'll last that long though.
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).
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.
Bacon in baked goods. It's hardly a new culinary trick, but it has enjoyed a bit of a vogue in recent years, showing up in everything from chocolates to brownies to cupcakes...and now, chocolate chip cookies.
When I visited Volunteer Park Cafe for the first time the other day with my buddies Neil and Judy, we tried out their "Miss Piggy" cookie--a generously sized chocolate chip cookie studded with bacon bits.
In general, I don't seek out bacon in baked goods, feeling like it's more often a shock-value addition than something intended to really bring out the flavors--but in this case, I did feel as if it actually worked. The bacon was used sparingly, so the taste was more of a whisper than a shout. While our consensus was that perhaps the bacon could have been slightly more crisp to add a texture contrast to the chewy cookie, it was overall a pretty successful use of sweet and savory. And for vegeterians, I'm pretty confident that the same would hold true if the cookie had been made with Morningstar's soy-based bacon.
What do you think about bacon in baked goods? Is it simply a shock-value addition, or are there delicious merits?
The Miss Piggy Cookie, Volunteer Park Cafe (call for availability), 1501 17th Avenue East, Seattle; online at alwaysfreshgoodness.com.
The late 1800s were a pretty eventful time in the USA: in New York, the Brooklyn Bridge was opened and Lady Liberty was installed; in the West, Billy the Kid and Jesse James bit the dust; the nation also grew, officially adding Washington, Montana and the Dakotas to the Union. And according to Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, the cookie of the decade was the Hermit:
One of our earliest favorites--rich with spices from the Indies, plump with fruits and nuts, Hermits originated in Cape Cod in Clipper Ship days. They went to sea on many a voyage, packed in canisters and tucked in sea chests.
Now, you may be wondering where this morsel got its funny name. There are a few theories uncovered on historycook.com:
Some say that the cookies were named because they look like a hermit's brown sack-cloth robe, but the earliest recipes are for white and round cookies. One possible lead is that the Moravians, an ethno-religious group well-known for thin spice cookies in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, were sometimes called "herrnhutter" in German or Dutch, and that might have sounded like "hermits" to an English-speaking cook.
Funny name and hazy origins aside, there's definitely another reason why hermits have lingered in our cookie jars: they're rich, cakey, moist, and satisfying. Adding raisins makes them taste vaguely virtuous, if you're into that--I'm not, so I substituted chocolate chips, and it worked out quite deliciously. They got even better when I sandwiched a slab of cheesecake filling between two of them (I think frosting would also work fantastically).
- makes about 3 dozen small cookies or 24 large cookies; if you're interested in the cheesecake filling shown in the top photo, you can find the recipe here -
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cups brown sugar, packed
- 1 eggs
- 1/4 cup cold coffee
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup chocolate (or white chocolate) chips
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
- Mix butter, sugar and egg thoroughly. Stir in coffee.
- Sift dry ingredients together; mix bit by bit into the butter/egg mixture.
- Once incorporated, add the chocolate chips and nuts and stir only until incorporated.
- Chill dough for at least 1 hour.
- Heat oven to 400 F.
- If you want small cookies, drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough onto your cookie sheet; if you're not scared of a big cookie, do as I did and use an ice cream scoop.
- Bake 8-10 minutes for small cookies, 12 or so minutes for larger ones, or until there is the slightest crispiness on the bottom (as they have a light brown hue from the coffee, you've got to be careful about this!).
My friend Tea says she's not a baker, but as you can see by these cookies, she's a liar.
She served these little morsels at a recent picnic we had (along with buddies Megan, Scott and Mr. CakeSpy), and they were definitely the star of the show. Though unassuming in size (while the close-up shot may fool you, they are actually about the same size as a jumbo marshmallow), they pack in a lot of flavor: they're chock full of white and milk chocolate chips, nuts and apricots, and very, very buttery. The apricot works especially beautifully, adding a wonderful moisture to the texture as well as a nice flavor complement to the sweet chocolate chips. Honestly, I can't imagine a more perfect picnic cookie. They're compulsively eatable and extremely addictive: just watch out, because it's easy to lose track of how many you've eaten!
- 1 2/3 cups regular flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup melted butter
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup white chocolate chips
- 2/3 cup milk chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup chopped almonds
- 3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, stir in the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients until well blended, then add the chips, almonds, and apricots.
3. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an unprepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Cookies should be golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet to cool on wire racks.