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Entries in Cookies (157)

Thursday
May192011

Taking It To the Sweet: All The News That's Fit To Eat and a Sweet Giveaway

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! 

Monday
May162011

Sweet Honey: Honey-Almond Cantuccini from Ancient Grains

I always love meeting a new cookie. So I was delighted to make the acquaintance of Cantuccini in the newly-released book Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More by Maria Speck, in which they are introduced thusly:

"Small almond biscotti are called cantuccini, or "little nooks" in the Tuscany region of Italy. These are honey-sweetened and delicately flavored with almonds in two forms--a finely ground meal and whole toasted nuts. Watch these twice-baked cookies closely, as you don't want them to brown too much and lose their fine fragrance. You will need extra almond meal for the work surface."

Honey-Almond Cantuccini

 Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup lightly packed almond meal (3.5 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted skin-on whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

 Procedure

  1. Whisk together the pastry flour, almond meal, and salt in a large bowl, and then stir in the almonds. Make a well in the center. In a medium bowl, using a large whisk, thoroughly blend the olive oil, honey, vanilla, and lemon zest until thick and syrupy, about one minute. Add to the center of the dry ingredients and combine, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, just until a soft dough forms. Do not overmix. Cover the bowl with a plate and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 300 degrees F.
  3. Line a large rimless sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Lightly sprinkle your work surface with almond meal. Cut the dough inside the bowl into four equal pieces. It will be soft and sticky. Briefly knead each piece a few times to smooth and form into a log, about 7 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. If almond pieces protrude, gently press them in while working the dough. Add more almond meal to your work surface if needed. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place logs on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches in between.
  5. Bake the logs until the tops show small cracks, firm up, and just start to brown--32 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven, and carefully slide the parchment paper with the logs onto a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Leave the oven on.
  6. Transfer logs to a cutting board. Using a large, sharp serrated knife, cut each log diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slice. Return the parchment paper to the baking sheet; place the slices upright (not cut-side up) on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake until the cantuccini feel dry to the touch at the cut sides (not on the top) and just start to brown at the edges, 15-17 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before storing. They freeze well for up to 1 month.

 

Friday
May132011

Good Fish: Goldfish Bowl Cookies Tutorial

So, recently I received a review copy of a book called Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast by Becky Selengut.

Now, I know why I received a review copy. It is because it was put out by the same publisher of my soon-to-be-released book, entitled CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life, which I might add is available for pre-order (nice plug!). It is also because I am a fan of Becky, who is not only a razor-sharp wit, but a heck of a cook, and a valued customer of mine (she used my cards for her wedding thank you cards, so she is guilty of very good taste).

But here's the thing. There's not one dessert recipe in the entire book. There are quinoa cakes, but of the savory persuasion. But everyone knows that savory cakes are just a good way to warm up your belly for sweet cakes.

So, in Becky's honor, I have created these goldfish-bowl cookies. Employing melted jolly ranchers form a translucent "bowl" over the goldfish crackers which are then finished off with writing icing, these cookies may look fishy, but taste anything but. While I would be lying if I said the jolly rancher taste was totally harmonious with the sugar cookie, it does make them awfully cute, and you can pull off the decoration before eating if desired.

Goldfish Bowl Cookies

 You need:

  • 12 jumbo sugar cookies, about 3 inches in diameter
  • Blue Jolly ranchers or translucent blue or clear candies (about 2 per cookie)
  • Goldfish Crackers (I used the S'more variety)
  • writing icing in various colors, for decoration

 Procedure:

  1. Lay your cookies in a row, and position the goldfish on each cookie in advance.
  2. Get out a small dish. Put about 4 of your candies in it at a time (you can do about 2 cookies' worth at a time; do more and it will get hard too fast). Microwave at medium heat until melted (for me, about 20 seconds). Holding the bowl carefully (you might want a mitt or something to protect you, because it will be hot), pour the candy directly on top of the positioned goldfish, using a spoon to smooth the candy into a circle. Work quickly because the candy will harden rapidly.
  3. Repeat, melting candy in small batches, until all of the cookies are done.
  4. Once the candy is hardened, use writing icing to form the bowl shape more clearly, and to add little fronds or pebbles in the "bowls".Decorating is more fun when you have feathers in your hair.
  5. Serve to your delighted friends after dinner, preferably something like this "heart-stoppingly delicious" dungeness crab mac and cheese from Becky's book, which can be purchased here.
Tuesday
May102011

U-Bake, I-Eat: U-Bake Cookies by Grand Central Baking Company

Grand Central Baking, which has retail bakery locations in Seattle (at one of which I got to wake up early and experience the life of an early-morning baker) and Portland, has expanded their repertoire to offer some new U-Bake products, including pie dough, puff pastry, and sweet little ready-to-bake nuggets of delicious cookie dough.

And recently they asked me if I'd like a sample to try out at home.

Hmm, free cookie dough? Count me in, baby.

When I went to pick up my sample, the employee asked which flavor(s) of cookie dough I'd like; I asked her which was the best one. When she hesitated, I said, "Well, tell me which one is your favorite." Much better: "The oatmeal chocolate chip" she said, not missing a beat. Sold!

So brought my little bucket of baby hockey-pucks of ready-to-bake dough home, and set to preheating. I simply placed them on the cookie sheet and baked, and 9-13 minutes later, the picture at the top of the post is what came out of the oven. Well, minus the googly eyes.

A little weird-looking on top, so maybe I'd finesse the dough into balls a little more before baking, but that complaint is purely visual. The cookies were very good--and when I brought a tin of 'em to my friends at Madison Park Greetings (my former employer before I took on full-time Cake Gumshoery), they were quite pleased, too.

U-Bake cookie dough is available at Grand Central Baking locations; visit their website here. Also, you should probably buy their book, The Grand Central Baking Book: Breakfast Pastries, Cookies, Pies, and Satisfying Savories from the Pacific Northwest's Celebrated Bakery -- because I have it and can attest that it's got some good recipes.

Tuesday
Apr262011

Let's Jam: Jamprint Cookies Recipe from Oddfellows Cafe, Seattle

Anyone who has ever visited Seattle's Oddfellows Cafe knows what a beautiful and special things its bakery case contains. From biscuits to blondies to bundts (and even homemade Ho-hos!), they've got something for every sweet tooth. And now, here's one of their secrets: a recipe for their Jamprint Cookies (a sort of thumbprint-meets-macaroon cookie). They urge you to post pictures on their Facebook page if you try the recipe out!

Here's how to make this magic happen at home:

Jamprint Cookies

 Ingredients

  • .75 lbs butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3.5 cups flour
  • .5 teaspoon salt
  • flaked coconut, for edges
  • jam (of your choosing), about 1 teaspoon per cookie

Procedure 

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cream butter + sugar in mixer w/ paddle attachment, add vanilla + salt
  3. Sift in the flour, mix until dough comes together
  4. Wrap in plastic, chill for 1 hr
  5. Roll it into 1 ounce balls, dip balls in egg wash + roll in flaked coconut
  6. Put ball on a baking sheet + indent the top, fill with jam.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until coconut is toasted and jam thickens.

 

Saturday
Apr162011

Sweet Soutine: Cookies and More from Soutine Bakery, NYC

If you haven't heard of Soutine Bakery in NYC, you're not alone. But I'd like you to discover it now, please and thank you.

Soutine is just off of the main drag, on a residental townhome sidestreet. It is tiny—I think of it as a dollhouse bakery. And this appeals to my love of all things tiny and cute.

But it's a double threat, because while their bakery case is small, there is no lack of delicious treats. They have frenchie treats like milles fueilles, sweet gateaux and other American standards (brownies, cookies, etc), but on this trip I zeroed in on the cookies.

The Soutine Chocolate Chip cookie is a crunchy affair, sort of along the lines of Tate's Bakeshop. Generally your dear spy's personal tastes lean toward soft and gooey when it comes to cookies, but, you know, it's never a good policy to eliminate the possibility of a delicious cookie experience solely because the cookie is crunchy. And ultimately the Soutine cookie was a sweet reward: light and crispy but still very buttery and rich in brown sugar flavor. I'd bet they taste even better warm, with a nice contrast between the crispy cookie and some gooey chocolate, but I wouldn't turn these cookies away any day.

I brought a bag to share with my buddies at the Serious Eats headquarters, and they approved, too.

Soutine Bakery, 149 W. 70th Street, NYC; online at soutine.com.

Tuesday
Apr122011

It's All About the Cookie: Chocolate Chip Cookies from Levain Bakery, NYC

So, if you've never been to Levain Bakery (you've probably heard of them, they're totally famous--the New York Times called them"Possibly the largest, most divine chocolate chip cookies in Manhattan," and they have been featured on the Food Network), I feel kind of bad for you. Here's why:

  1. You don't need detailed directions to get there--once you're within a block of it, you will smell the aroma of chocolate chip cookies, and it will draw you ever closer, not unlike little cartoon scent-swirls.
  2. Actually walking down the few steps required to walk into the bakery is kind of like walking into a big chocolate chip cookie (or perhaps heaven)--it is warm, and it smells like butter, sugar, and chocolate. And bread.
  3. The employees are nice. Every time I have been there, they have been sweet as pie to me.
  4. Your screen does not deceive you--the cookie pictured above does not only appear ginormous, it actually IS ginormous. Their cookies weigh roughly 6 ounces each, which, last time I checked, is pretty close to half a pound. 
  5. In case you glazed over that last one: HALF A POUND OF COOKIE!
  6. But these cookies are not merely large in size--they are big in flavor, too. Buttery, lightly crispy on the outside, and chewy and gooey on the inside. I like the ones with walnuts, because they have a nice little flavor and texture contrast from nubbly little shards of nuts.

...and, dear friends, I will confess, I can eat one all by myself. In fact I have, just the other day, while doing an extensive CakeWalk of the Upper West Side of Manhattan (more on that later). True, eating a half-pound of cookie without also walking about 13 miles is probably not very healthy, but I assure you, it is still very delicious.

Summary: if you are in New York, go there. If you are not, buy the cookies online. 

Levain Bakery, 167 W. 74th Street; shop online here.

Sunday
Apr032011

Sweet Spot: Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies Recipe by Cake Gumshoe Christine

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Cake Gumshoe Christine Mullen, a photographer and food blogger from Ottawa, Ontario. She enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and photographing the results but ultimately hates doing the dishes. She blogs at Munchin With Munchkin.

I have the biggest weak spot for chocolate covered raisins. Every time I bite into one it brings me back to my earliest childhood memory.

I remember the specific moment I was hooked for life. It was December of 1989. My mother was on Christmas holidays and she decided to take me to see my first movie. We drove to Britannia which had both an indoor theatre and a drive in.

When we entered the theatre I was mesmerized by the speckled carpet, the sparkling ceiling and the overwhelming smell of popcorn. As we stood in line my eyes focused on a glass display case at the front
counter filled with colourful boxes of candy.

When we finally got to the front of the line my mother purchased our tickets and asked me if I wanted a treat. In my 3 years of life I rarely had candy so I knew this was a special occasion. As I peered through the glass my options were overwhelming. Without the ability to read my decision was determined solely by the colour of the box. I came to the conclusion that the purple box would contain the best treat and mother happily agreed.

With large purple box in hand we walked to our theatre and chose seats
close to the front. My memories of the movie are vague but I remember
sharing that box of raisinets and thinking my mother was the coolest
person in the whole world.

My mother is coming to visit me this week so in preparation I made these oatmeal raisinet cookies to share with her. They are incredibly soft and chewy and the chocolate covered raisins add that taste of childhood every great cookie should have.

Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies

Makes about two dozen cookies

 

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tsp. baking soda
  • ½  Tsp. salt
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate covered raisins

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugars.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until fully combined.
  4. Stir in the baking soda, salt, and flour and mix until just combined, being careful not to over mix. Briefly mix in the oats. Add the chocolate covered raisins and stir until just combined.
  5. Scoop 1 tablespoon of cookie dough onto un-greased cookie sheets about half an inch apart.
  6. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until the cookies are golden brown along the edges.

 

Wednesday
Mar302011

Maple Madness: Vermont Maple Cookies with Maple Buttercream and Canadian Bacon Recipe

Fact: Vermont Maple cookies are pretty awesome.

But, you know, that's not to say that they can't be made better with the addition of two things that make pretty much everything better: frosting and bacon. When paired with the fact that this enables you to eat two cookies, at once, with frosting and bacon, pretty much puts us all at the point of awesome overload. Here's how you do it.

Vermont Maple Cookies with Maple Buttercream and Canadian Bacon

For the cookies

For the frosting and garnish (frosting adapted from this recipe)

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup, best quality
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
  • To garnish: 3-4 slices Canadian bacon, glazed with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and baked until very crispy, and crumbled

Procedure

  1. Bake cookies and let cool.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolkson high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes; set aside. In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the maple syrup to a boil, and cook until it registers 240 on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.With the mixer running, slowly pour syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream, until completely incorporated, about 1 minute.
  3. Continue beating until bowl is just slightly warm to the touch, 4 to 5 minutes. Add butter, one piece at a time, until thoroughly incorporated and the frosting is fluffy, about 4 minutes more.
  4. Turn over one of your cookies and place a healthy dollop on the bottom. Sandwich a second cookie, bottom-side down, on top. Sprinkle the exposed frosting sides with crumbled bacon. Enjoy.
Wednesday
Mar302011

Maple Madness: Vermont Maple Cookies Recipe for Serious Eats

When it comes to baking with maple, Grade C (or sometimes Grade B; see note, below) is anything but average.

It's is the deepest, darkest, most assertively maple-flavored grade of syrup you can get; while it can be a bit strong for, say, topping your pancakes (that's Grade A territory), the higher-octane stuff lends a rich, almost caramel-like maple flavor to baked goods. These simple drop cookies, adapted from a recipe I discovered in a vintage Vermont baking pamphlet at the Maple Museum of New England, are an ideal recipe to let the maple flavor shine.

They're great on their own, or if you want to double your pleasure, sandwich two with a smear of buttercream.

Note: As I learned on this website, Grade C Maple Syrup is no longer used by USDA. Grade C Maple Syrup is now designated USDA Grade B Maple Syrup. However, while in Vermont last week, I still saw a lot of maple labeled Grade C. If you can't locate Grade C maple syrup, simply choose the darkest Grade B variety you can find.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

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