Fortune cookies are so bossy, always telling you what the future holds, often in a weird and enigmatic way. But with National Fortune Cookie Day being July 20 (sorry I'm late), there's a sweeter option. Choose your own destiny by baking your own fortune cookies: this way, you can stuff them with any kind of fortunes you want. And as a bonus, they're surprisingly easy and quick to bake, and the lightly sweet, vanilla-scented homemade version tastes vastly superior to commercial varieties.
Entries in Cookies (156)
Looking for cookies to serve during your July 4 festivities? Bake this cookie that creates an explosion of flavors in your mouth, of the sweet-savory kind. The sweet drop cookies are nicely contrasted by the saltiness of the chips, but get a fascinating flavor dimension from the nutty Smooth Operator peanut butter. One bite and even doubters will be singing a new story.
Note: I found that you can also get extra flavor-points by using The Bee’s Knees peanut butter, which adds pleasing mellow end-note from the honey mingling with the brown sugar.
While vending at the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn this weekend (if you're reading this on Sunday, the 12th, it is still going on today, 11-7!), there was a sweet street vendor set up nearby to offer snacks to the crafty guys and dolls selling in the park: Joyride Truck, which, to the best of my observation, is a sort of mobile fro-yo truck, coffee purveyor (and distributor), and...best of all, they have cookies.
Naturally we were intrigued by the "Danny Macaroons", which is not merely the name of the product but of the local company from which they buy the cookies as well. The fact that they shared a first name with Mr. Spy, plus the fact that they came in flavors like German Chocolate, Roasted Almond, Bailey's, and Salted Caramel, made them a fairly easy sell.
A Salted Caramel was purchased and given to Mr. Spy for expert analysis; here were his thoughts:
The caramel top was crunchy, which was nice, because my general complaint with macaroons is that they can tend toward being too chewy. The flavor was nicely balanced, with the sweet coconut getting a nice rich and salty counterpart in the caramel.
Or, as Mr. Spy put it, “The Caramel was strong in that one.” And, most importantly, it lived up to its name—Mr. Spy (who some call Danny, as it is his name) said that he was proud to share a name with this cookie.
Find them online at dannymacaroons.com.
The other day, I found myself in a magical land called Cle Elum.
Now, don't ask me how to pronounce the name of the town--but do ask me what I ate there, because I did find a magical place called Cle Elum Bakery.
I ate something called Torchetti, that's what. This is a traditional Italian cookie which I learned more frequently goes by Torcetti, which means "little twist"--which, you know, describes them pretty well. Physically they resemble Berlinerkranser or Calabrian Love Knots, but texture and taste-wise they are different; where aforementioned cookies are crumbly and buttery, these biscuits are more hearty and sturdier in texture with the addition of yeast, more like lightly sweet biscuits than butter cookies.
As I learned from this segment,
The recipe itself is very old, indicated by the use of yeast, not baking powder, for leavening. These cookies are from the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Turin, Piedmont's capital, was also Italy's first capital. The city preserves remarkable architectural and cultural treasures.
They're a very nice snacking cookie, no matter what you want to call them or how you want to spell it.
Of course, if you can't make it up (or over?) to Cle Elum, you can try this recipe (adapted from Taste of Home):
Torchetti (or Torcetti)
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cold butter, cubed
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- Additional confectioners' sugar
- Place flour in a large bowl; cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla and 2 cups of the crumb mixture; beat until well blended. Gradually beat in remaining crumb mixture.
- Turn onto a floured surface; knead for 3-4 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch dough down; divide into six portions. Shape each portion into twelve 6-in. ropes, about 1/4-in. thick; roll in confectioners' sugar. Shape each rope into a loop. Holding both ends of loop, twist together three times.
- Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Roll warm cookies in additional confectioners' sugar. Cool on wire racks.
Case in point: sugar cookies stuffed with chocolate chip cookie dough. This baking experiment proves that yes, stacking two cutout cookies sandwiched with a dollop of chocolate chip cookie dough bakes up something delicious, and, in case you didn't notice, it's basically like eating three cookies at once. Triple threat of sweet deliciousness.
Note: You can either make these cookies as cutout cookies, or make more free-form rounds with your sugar cookie dough. The free-form method will result in fatter cookies (pictured at top); the cutout method will result in slightly slimmer cookies with a bulging mound of dough in the middle.
Not long ago, via Foodbuzz, I received a parcel of goodies from Foodzie, a cool service that will send you a monthly parcel of unique food finds from around the nation. A fun way to get to know some new products.
But by far and away, the item in the parcel that captured most of my sweet little heart was the Alfajores made by Sabores del Sur, in the SF Bay area.
Here's their description of the sweet treats: "filled with creamy dulce de leche caramel and dusted with white powdered sugar, these South American treats have been described as "little bites of heaven".
Of course "little" might not be the right word in this case, because the ones in this parcel were a mouthful, hefty crumbly sugary cookies sandwiched with a generous filling of dulce de leche (I think it's Spanish for "addictive-as-crack").
Though you may not have heard of alfajores before, they are quite popular--even ubiquitous--in South America. There are many different variations depending on what country you visit. Per Wikipedia:
In most American alfajores there are two layers of cake, and a filling in between. In Argentina its basic form consists of two round sweet biscuits joined together with mousse, dulce de leche or jam and coated with black or white chocolate (many alfajores are sold in "black" and "white" flavours) or simply covered with powdered sugar. There's also one variation, called "Alfajor de nieve", that instead of having a white or black chocolate coating, it has a "snow" coating. The "snow coating" consists of a mixture of egg whites and sugar. Peruvian alfajores are usually coated in powdered sugar, as seen in the picture, and are filled with manjar blanco. Most alfajores come packaged in aluminium foil, in Mexico they are made with just coconut, and are normally a tri-color coconut confection, in Nicaragua, they follow more in the lines of the Canary island type of alfajores and are made with molasses and different type of grains including corn, and cacao similarly to most chocolate bars, though hand-made are just as accessible and generally packaged in plastic wrap or wax paper.
Certainly Sabores del Sur are worth seeking out (check out their site, or find them on Foodzie), but if you prefer to make your own, check out this recipe via RecipeGirl.com or this recipe for Pisco-infused alfajores on this very site.
What's better than shortbread? Not much. But this simple sweet takes beautifully to added flavors, including herbs--as evidenced by this delicious recipe for Lavender Shortbread. I first sampled this when Cake Gumshoe Tania (look at her blog here) brought some to an event at the store, and -- joy!--she was also kind enough to offer the recipe. The only warning? This buttery stuff is addictive!
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- zest from 1/2 a lemon
- 1 teaspoon dried lavender
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter an 8x8-inch pan.
- Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add zest and lavender; mix well.
- Add flour and mix til fully incorporated.
- Press dough into your prepared pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden around the edges and with a dull finish on top.
- Let cool for 10 minutes, then cut into pieces, still in pan; let cool completely before removing.
- Enjoy, ideally with a cuppa'.
Recently, I received this cry for help via email from reader Anne:
I have a big problem. Sunday is my 30th birthday and as is tradition, we will have a Bake-Off! Birthday Bake-Off is pretty much the greatest idea I have ever had: maximum dessert variety and no having to awkwardly stare off into space while people sing happy birthday and all I'm thinking is how we are wasting precious seconds that could be used for eating frosting. But, the dilemma. I have no idea what to make this year. Now that there are internets, there are just TOO MANY awesome recipes and I can't decide on one. You are the connoisseur of carbs - what would YOU make??
-Clueless in Cleveland
Now, Clueless in Cleveland, I will tell you, I thought about this for a long time. I went outside and took a walk, knowing that the answer would come to me. And then it did:As a majestic unicorn whizzed by, I thought to myself: "It must involve rainbows, and magic."
And from then on, the answer was easy:
1. Take the most colorful recipe I could think of, which is definitely Rainbow Cookies (now, to get the recipe I'm going to have to urge you to buy my book, because that's where the recipe is, but I'll tell you now that it's not so very different from these cookies).
2. Add magic. And how better and more reliably can one add magic than by adding cookie dough to the mix?
And so, with that sweet epiphany in mind, allow me to present the new Best Thing Ever:
Rainbow Cookies Stuffed With Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
Here's how you do it.
- 1 batch rainbow cookie dough (similar enough to this recipe that you could make it work by tinting the dough many colors)
- 1/2 batch chocolate chip cookie dough (bake the rest normally, or use it to stuff cupcakes, you follow your bliss)
Note: if you are uneasy about the cookie dough not baking fully and the whole egg thing, use a chocolate chip cookie dough that does not use eggs, or that uses egg replacer.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- So, you've got your rainbow cookie dough all ready to go. Now, slice it into fairly thin coins--like, 1/8 inch thick. Lay them on your prepared baking sheet with about 1 inch in between rounds (they won't spread too much).
- On the center of each round, place a small dollop of chocolate chip cookie dough.
- Place a second coin of rainbow cookie dough on top. If it cracks between color segments, use your fingers to smooth it back into place. Gently press the sides down so your chocolate chip cookie dough doesn't ooze out.
- Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until rainbow cookies have a dull finish on top.
- Let cool for 5 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
CakeSpy Note: I am so glad you have plenty of money, because there's another book you should buy this year in addition to my CakeSpy oeuvre. It's called In the Small Kitchen: 100 Recipes from Our Year of Cooking in the Real World and it's by Cara and Phoebe of Big Girls Small Kitchen. Here's a guest post from these talented sweeties:
There are about a million reasons to bake, most of which are enumerated right here on CakeSpy. Sweets bring such pleasure, and they’re the easiest treats to share.
But sometimes a batch of baked goods is not just about the chocolate (or the butter or the sugar or the maple syrup). We send off treats when we want to express an emotion or make a gesture that we’re just not eloquent enough to put into words. We bake, box, and deliver, and poof!—we’ve conveyed how we feel.
So whether it’s guilt, atonement, or pity you need to demonstrate, we’ve got the sweet for you in our book, In the Small Kitchen, which comes out on Tuesday, May 24th! A whole section, called “Tins of Treats” is organized by emotion and the treat that goes with it. (In case you can’t wait, the answer is: brownies assuage guilt, “lotus” blondies are for atonement, and classic chocolate chip cookies are best for ameliorating a pitiable situation.)
For now, something simple: cookies for gratitude. It’s possible this is what cookies were invented for.
These Butterscotch Pecan Cookies are something special, as is fitting when you’re thankful. Their toothsome texture makes each bite melt in your mouth, and the sweet taste of butterscotch is balanced every so slightly by espresso. But the best part is the sweet-and-savory coating: these babies get a roll in a sugar-salt mix before going into the oven to caramelize and bake. Gratitude, indeed!
Butterscotch Pecan Cookies
Makes 24-30 cookies
If you can’t find butterscotch extract, use 3/4 cup butterscotch chips and decrease the pecans to 1 ¼ cups.
- 2 cups (8-ounces) raw pecans
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 3/4 teaspoon butterscotch extract (see note)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
for coating the cookies:
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment (or just bake in batches).
2. Spread the pecan halves on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, checking every minute or so after 5 minutes have passed. You want the nuts to be fragrant and sweet but not burnt. Set aside to cool. (You can do this step a while in advance.)
3. Put 3/4 cup cooled pecans in a food processor. Pulse on and off until the pecans are just ground--you don't want to turn them into a paste.
4. On a cutting board, chop the remaining 1 ¼ cups pecans into small pieces. Put the ground and chopped nuts in a small bowl and add the flour, baking soda, and teaspoon salt. Stir to combine and set aside.
5. In a large mixing bowl with a handheld mixture, cream the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy.
6. Add the egg, beat until combined, then mix in the extracts and espresso powder.
7. Pour the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix just until the flour is incorporated.
8. Prepare the coating: mix together the additional sugar and salt on a shallow plate. Form the dough into 2-inch balls, and roll the balls in the sugar-salt mixture until coated. Place the balls on a baking sheet 3 inches apart.
9. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, until the bottoms are golden and the tops are just barely firm. Remove and let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before gently removing to racks or plates to cool completely.
Fact 1: CakeSpy Loves to bake.
Fact 2: CakeSpy is a prolific baker.
Fact 3: CakeSpy Loves mischief.
It may not be scientific or anything, but what all of these facts add up to is generally lots of fun. Here's how it went down last night.
Now, it is true that I had recently made truffles, gooey butter cake, and millionaire's shortbread for various baking experiments and projects, but when I received a parcel of the new Naturally Nora cookie mixes, I couldn't help but bake up a batch or two.
The chocolate chip cookies were my quarry, and I made two batches: one "plain", and one with two tablespoons of peanut butter added. The cookies came out quite nicely, I think, with a nice, nugget-y look and a soft on the inside, lightly crispy on the outside texture. The peanut butter, while not necessary for deliciousness, sure didn't hurt things (does it ever?).
But now I had a problem: a cookie surplus!
Luckily, this is, as problems go, not such a bad one, so I decided to share my sweet bounty with the world at large. Yup: time to Take it to the Sweet!
and so I put the cookies in sweet twosomes in bags, tied them with ribbon, and wrote sweet little notes to go along with them.
and then I decided on the best place to have a positive and sweet impact: the newsstand! Why? Well, the news can be--how do we say, kind of a downer--so this seemed like a natural and especially good place to brighten someone's day. I think that even if the finder might not be brave enough to eat these mystery cookies, the fact that they found them might just, you know, kind of give them pause in their everyday life, add a sweet aspect to their day, and at least give them a good story.
I chose this lineup on 15th Avenue East because it was under a streetlight and just seemed like a nice little row.
I put some cookies inside of each box, but in the case of USA today, which had not yet been stocked, I put it on the outside, near the payment slot--maybe it would brighten the night of the newspaper delivery-person?
Here's proof that Tom Skerrit loves cookies:
I thought this one, on top of Seattle Weekly, worked especially well.
So there you go--even the news can be made sweeter!
Have a totally sweet day, love CakeSpy.
P.S. Giveaway Alert! Naturally Nora has also kindly offered up a sweet giveaway! Want to win some cookie mix? Sweet! To enter, simply leave a comment below (US only, giveaway closes next friday, May 27 at noon PST) or on the CakeSpy Facebook Page saying how you'd make the world (or maybe just a friend's day) sweeter with these cookies!