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Entries in Cookies (171)

Sunday
May292011

Give me More: Sweet Love for Alfajores by Sabores del Sur of California

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.

Saturday
May282011

Get Shorty: Lavender Shortbread Recipe from Tania of Love Big Bake Often

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!

Lavender Shortbread

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • zest from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried lavender
  • 2 1/4 cups flour

 Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter an 8x8-inch pan.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add zest and lavender; mix well.
  3. Add flour and mix til fully incorporated.
  4. Press dough into your prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden around the edges and with a dull finish on top.
  6. Let cool for 10 minutes, then cut into pieces, still in pan; let cool completely before removing.
  7. Enjoy, ideally with a cuppa'.

 

Tuesday
May242011

Taste The Magic: Rainbow Cookies Stuffed With Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Recipe

Recently, I received this cry for help via email from reader Anne:

Dear CakeSpy,

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.

You'll need:

  • 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.

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. 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).
  3. On the center of each round, place a small dollop of chocolate chip cookie dough.
  4. 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.
  5. Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until rainbow cookies have a dull finish on top. 
  6. Let cool for 5 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Friday
May202011

Cookie Time: Butterscotch Pecan Cookies Recipe by Big Girls, Small Kitchen

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 Kitchenwhich 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!

--Cara and Phoebe, bloggers at Big Girls, Small Kitchen and authors of In the Small Kitchen.

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

Procedure

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.

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.

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